Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dichroic Heart Pendant Give Away

Helix Elemental Studio is giving away a three layered dichroic heart pendant with silver plated chain with a silver plated lobster clasp. It is valued at $17.00 in my etsy store. A random drawing will be held Sunday January 17 and the winner announced. It is easy to enter the drawing. Here's how:

  1. Follow my blog and comment here. This equals one entry.

  2. If you already follow my blog comment here. This equals one entry.

  3. Post contest on your blog and comment here with link. Good for one entry.

  4. Visit Browse and comment here with a link to your favorite item. Good for one entry.

  5. Post a link to this contest on any social networking site (twitter, Facebook, Ning, etc) Comment here with a link. One entry for each link.

Thank you all in advance for your participation. Have fun and win!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Snowman Set

This is my first example of jewelry that recognizes a holiday. An area I've been pretty negligent. I guess my fear has been being stuck with some unsold items that sit around for a year before I can try to sell them again. But I had a custom order request for snowman pendant and earrings, and thus I'm quite pleased. Sufficiently silly looking dichroic snowman jewelry. I've decided to make another pair of the earrings to list in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Cure For Crafty Hands

I have to say I never realized how torn up my fingers could get doing glass work. Holding small pieces of glass against grinders and ring saw blades had left my fingertips cracked, cut, peeling, bleeding and so sensitive I could barely stand to touch anything. If I let them callus the calluses would split and bleed. When I tried taping them up there were times when I'd remove the tape to find my skin peeling off with the tape. For months I tried everything I could think of to get them to heel. I think there's also something about glass dust (more like glass mud since it's wet) that is very bad for hands. They would dry and crack in addition to the trauma that the glass edges did to my finger tips.
One day my wife brought home a product called O'Keeffe's Working Hands. It comes as a lotion in a tube and as a cream in a round container. If you're one of those folks who get those painful cracks near your nail beds, this stuff will heal them almost overnight. After using this stuff every night at bedtime and throughout the day my hands and finger tips are almost completely healed. If you could have seen how ravaged they were before you'd know what an accomplishment that is.
So between grinding down the edges of the glass before I press it against the ring saw blade and the regular application of O'Keeffe's Working Hands my misery has been greatly relieved. I mean, it's not like I'd ever consider quitting doing glass work. Something had to give.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Designs

The jewelry market is VERY saturated and it is not easy to keep sales coming in with so many talented artisans out there. I felt it was time to evolve. For most of the time I've been making fused glass jewelry I preferred to do a shallow "tack" fuse on my pieces. This resulted in more defined edges, and rather than incorporating the glass I pretty much just layered it. I like the interactions from the different layers of transparent glass. I rarely used opaque glass.
I decided to do a few things differently. First I began a marketing campaign, which is pretty much an OJT thing for me. I'm learning as I go along, trying to decide where best to focus my resources. Then I lowerd my prices. I took an average of about three dollars off of my jewelry. And lastly I began to shift direction with my designs. I'll keep some of my more popular items (like the puzzle pendants), but now I'm doing more of the full fusing designs and using alot of the fusible decals to embellish my pieces. Above is a comparison of my old vs my new designs. I have really enjoyed creating in this new style.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

First Double Puzzle Dangles

I havent crafted a great many of the double puzzle pendants, but I have made a couple recently. Actually both of them sold at the craft fair yesterday. I also had a pair of double puzzle dangles on display which matched one of the pendants. But the dangles didn't sell yet.
My previous attempts to make the double puzzle dangles didn't go too well. Simply because they were much smaller than the pendants. As I've gotten better at making the pendants I decided to try to make another pair of the dangles. Actually the trick to success is to just to be VERY patient with the removal of the glass. I have to alter the puzzle shaped templates I use to cut out the puzzle shapes in Photoshop (or by hand whichever the case may be) so they sorta kinda fit together. Then I have to make the final fit happen by meticulously taking off minute amounts of glass, checking the fit and then taking off a little more. It's VERY easy to overdo it, and if you do you've pretty much blown it. They don't always have to fit perfectly, but there has to be enough contact for the pieces to fuse together securely, and I do a pretty shallow fuse on my pieces (though I do add two minutes to my fire time when I fire connecting puzzles.
Now, of course, I've got to make more!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Intoduction Of Bracelets

I've begun to add bracelets to my jewelry designs. They have been pretty popular at our local craft fair. They are a bit time (and glass) consuming so they are so far the most expensive item in my shop. I'll also be adding rings more regularly as well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dichroic Magic

I recently purchased this 4x4 piece of Green/Magenta/Blue Premium Dichroic glass from Artisan Dichroic. It was a bit more pricy than the other "non premuim" solid colors. I can't wait to try it out. Dichroic is supposed to mean "two colors". How many colors can you see?

Ghost Gift for Ghost Hunter

Christina and I are both fans of the SciFi Channel series Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International. We have both had experiences in the past with haunted locations. I stayed with my brother for three weeks in a very haunted house in Los Gatos, CA back in 1980. Christina and I lived in a haunted apartment complex in South Salt Lake in 2003, and occasionally the ghost would drop by our apartment and freak us out.

We have discussed sending a ghost pendant to TAPS for some time now, and I finally discovered a really cool glass combination of Lacy Transluscent White and a rainbow hued dichroic glass that produces a sort of opalescent appearance.

We addressed the pendant to one of our favorite Ghost Hunters investigators Donna LaCroix (care of TAPS) with a note expressing our fanhood.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Metal Up/Metal Down

As described by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Dichroic glass is glass containing multiple micro-layers of metal oxides which give the glass dichroic optical properties. Dichroic glass was originally developed by NASA and its contractors for use in satellite optics and spacesuit visors.[1]

Multiple ultra-thin layers of different metal oxides (gold, silver, titanium, chromium, aluminium, zirconium, magnesium, silicon) are vaporised by an electron beam in a vacuum chamber. The vapour then condenses on the surface of the glass in the form of a crystal structure. This is sometimes followed by a protective layer of quartz crystal.[2] The finished glass can have as many as 30[2] to 50 layers of these materials yet the thickness of the total coating is approximately 30[2] to 35 millionths of an inch (about 760 to 890 nm). The coating that is created is very similar to a gemstone and, by careful control of thickness, different colours are obtained.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

As used by glass artists dichroic glass has many varieties and color combinations. Dichroic glass is usually sold as a coating on clear glass or black glass. Dichroic on black glass will always look the same regardless of what is layered beneath it. I always use dichroic on clear, because it will look different depending on what color glass you have layered in over. Dichroic is available in plain colors , usually two colors, such as pink/teal, or orange/cyan, or violet/yellow. These colors become evident as light strikes the dichroic surface at different angles. Often a third color may become visible. Dichroic is also available in various patterns such as swirls or wavy lines, and also may be seen with images etched on it like dragonflies, kitties or hearts. Often I purchase dichroic glass in rainbow hues in patterns like "Pixie Stix", or "Cork Screw".

Dichroic glass, like iridescent glass always has a metallic side and a glass side. Because the dichroic coating is one one side of the glass the piece will look quite different depending on how it is layered and whether or not the dichroic surface is facing up or facing down.

The Above photo demonstrates the differences achieved by identical dichroic glass coatings with metal side up and metal side down.
NOTE: When layering dichroic on dichroic, you cannot fuse metal side to metal side. the dichroic surfaces will not fuse to each other.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Computer/Design Area

Our two computer systems are partitioned off from the livingroom by the bank of grinders, saw, and sander. We have fiberoptic internet through Xmission. We have been very pleased with their service. For our phone we use Vonage. Can't say enough about Vonage. It's a great service and if you have a business you can't beat the unlimited free long distance and tons of other features that don't cost a penny extra.

We probably spend a third of our time at the computers listing items, designing, and doing marketing work and research. It's my least favorite chore. I much prefer just making jewelry.

The woman with the pony tail is my wife Christina. We share one brain.

Cutting, Layout, Assembly Area

Other than a nice leather sofa and a TV, there's nothing to suggest this is a livingroom. We store all our glass, hand tools, findings, paints, etc. I have a Morton Cutting System which I use frequently. For a work and cutting surface, I have a few tables topped with drywall. It's great for stained glass work because you can insert pins, nails, etc. It's also heat resistant. I don't think there's a better surface for working with glass. I have racks where I keep my 90 COE, 96 COE and art glass separate. I have a small, portable work table I place in front of the sofa so I can continue to work while I'm "relaxing" in front of the TV.

Christina and I work nearly every waking moment.

Grinding Area

Yes, this is a very messy thing to do in your livingroom. Fortunatly the home we rent already has the most hideous carpet I've ever seen in one house. When the landlord asked if we wanted him to replace it, we declined. We would rather trash trashy carpet than have to spread tarps or whatever all over.

Our bank of grinding tools consists of the ring saw, large grinder with an ultrafine dichroic grinding bit, a small grinder with a standard bit, and a Covington wet belt sander.

A Rotating Ring

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ring Saw

A tool I find essential for making glass jewelry (besides the glass grinder) is my Taurus Ring Saw. It uses a very strong and flexible diamond coated stainless steel ring which rotates around pulling cooling and lubricationg water from the reservoir beneath the bed of the saw.

It is available with a standard blade, a thin blade, a mega blade( for cutting stone/marble) a dichroic blade (fine grit so as not to chip dichroic coating), and a separating blade (for inside cuts).

The diamond coating on the blades (as with glass ginder bits) do not cut flesh and are very safe to use. They will only cut hard materials, so keep your fingernails and jewelry away from the blade. Diamond blades will also make short work of a callus.