About Me

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I am an artist, wife and mother, paraeducator, yo-yo dieter, and small town country girl. I love singing in my church choir, computer time, beading and making jewelry. And I love enameling! There is something very magical about turning powder into smooth, shiny, and colorful glass.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Teaching a Class

When I was asked to conduct and teach an earring workshop for our town's Art in the Snow weekend, I was very pleased but also nervous. I teach kids in my day job, but adults are far more intimidating to me. I wanted everyone to feel they got their moneys worth and walk away with a nice pair of earrings no matter what their experience with jewelry making was. I decided on a simple wire wrap design with a choice of stones. I provided my hand crafted ear wires and headpins.
earrings by Kristen Varian from BeadSwede Studios
I had sample earrings for design inspiration and showed several techniques for wire wrapping. I was so impressed with the finished earrings, I wish I took pictures! Here's some things that contributed to a great class experience:

  • have good light. The first spot I planned on setting up was in the back of a wine shop but it turned out the overhead lights didn't work. I moved to the front of the shop next to a large display window. It worked because it was a bright sunny day but it might have been difficult to see what we were doing if it was cloudy out.
  • be organized. I put all the stones in plastic bags and labeled them so it was easier to choose. Each person got a "kit" with ear wires and wrapping wire.
  • make a lesson plan. It's easy to forget something so I had notes to look at while I was teaching.
  • do a demo. I brought my butane micro torch and did a demo on how to make your own ear wires and head pins. It was a small thing but everyone seemed very interested!
  • bring gift packaging. I only wrapped one pair of earrings but she was very appreciative.
  • have a hand out. I printed up a tutorial to hand out at the end of the class.

  • Here are some things I could have done better:
  • Make sure you have enough room. I brought a fold up table from home and although it worked out fine, if I had any last minute registrants, it would have been very tight.
  • Hand out business cards or web addresses. You don't have to sell yourself but someone might be interested in what else you have to sell.
  • bring extra lighting!!
  • don't wait until the last minute to get ready for your class. OK, I admit one of the reasons I was so organized is because we had a snow day (I work in a school) the day before the class which gave me lots of leisurely time to get ready.
  • music would have nice!

  • All in all this was a good experience that I would do again! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Silver Foil

Silver foil is a gorgeous addition to transparent enamels. Although it's pricey, you can use tiny amounts to create interesting and classy effects to your jewelry. One of the nicest uses of foil I've seen is in this wooden trinket box cover that was made by my sister Elin when she was just a teenager. 
I loved it and she gave it to me and it's been one of my prized possessions for many years.  The foil was cut into tiny squares and fired several times adding more foil and another layer of the red enamel each time so the foil looks like it's different colors.  I haven't done anything this complicated yet!

 To try this technique yourself, use fine silver foil. It comes packaged in a leaf which is sandwiched between sheets of tissue.
It's easier to use if you cut or punch out the shape you want with the tissue in place. Do not use the metal composite foil you find at craft stores because it will just burn up in the kiln. Using tweezers, place the piece of foil you've cut out where you want it on the prepared enameled piece. Feed some adhesive liquid under the foil with the paintbrush so you can easily adjust the position. 
Let it dry completely and fire for 2 minutes. It will sink into the transparent enamel and "crinkle" interestingly. You can enamel over it if you want but that will change the silver color. The pendant above was left alone after the foil firing because I liked the way it turned out. I once enameled over the foil with a red color and it beaded up instead of smoothing out. It looked interesting even though it wasn't planned.  The earrings on the right were created by putting the foil circles over transparent pink (which was enameled over white) and then putting another coat of pink over it. The foil turned this great gold color so I enhanced it by enameling a little dark yellow around the edges. You can also enamel a coat of clear enamel over the foil to create some depth but make sure to use clear for silver not copper which will yellow the foil.
                                                     Make something beautiful!