Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Wonder Wedding tiara

Its been a while since I created a tiara. The ones I have for sale on Etsy are all a few years old. But now the snow suddenly arrived here in Denmark, I felt inspired to created a new tiara for the winter bride. As always, I worked with sterling silver, in this case only wire, but added for the first time cubic zirconias and white rabbit fur.

First I cut some lengths of 1,5 mm thick wire and run up the ends of two of them (always detail I prefer to just cutting it up. It provides the last elegant ending to any whiplash line). Then I bent them into shape and forged some sections in order to obtain the whiplash flow:

Here I’m halfway through assembly. The challenge with a structure like this is to move through all harnesses of solder in order not to unsolder previous joints. This version however, wasn’t that hard.

Details are important, even on the backside. Hence I filed and sanded the large join smooth, even though I knew it would be covered by fur later.

And here we are –in a very bad lightning: the finished piece, set with the zirconias, but still unclad.

That happened here and I must say, I love it.

It came out pretty much as I initially drew it. That is very satisfactionary, though I sometimes am happy I changed the design as I went along…

The fur transforms a very pretty tiara to something exceptional and very fairytale-ish. This is the tiara to wear for that daring woman who braves cold and darkness and says yes to her man in the light of their love instead of the sun. I am very pleased with this tiara and will create another one soon again! Want to see more pictures of the finished piece? Take a look here

However: I’m off to Finland for Christmas.

Happy yuletide from Copenhagen :-D

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Climate and the big honchos

Wow... it has been snowing overnight. Yesterday afternoon it started, but was just this wet and cold stuff that melts immediately. Nothing to take very seriously. But this morning everything is looking white, soft and clean. How christmasy can you get? Of cause some parts of the country are in trouble: cars get stuck etc. Still, selfish as I am, I rejoice like a kid :-) I'm stuck inside though because I managed to get a cold and am writing in the much used presence of Kleenex *snief*. But at least I can look out at the beauty:

And its just very, very cozy inside! With snow on the windows and my favorite christmas decoration:

And what a timing for the snow to arrive! Right now, the big honchos are pouring into Copenhagen for the COP15 meeting. The leaders of over 100 countries are meeting in an effort to reduce the CO2 emission and act a lot more sustainable in general. Never have this many leaders met at once and that itself is awe-inspiring. Question is: will they actually achieve a result that will change something for real? It would be embarrassing if they didn’t after all this effort and I AM a hopeless optimist. Still I fear a less good result…

However, a lot of attention to the issue has of cause been stirred and if nothing else, that is positive and will hopefully lead everyone to be more aware and act accordingly. This attention is also driven by the many (cultural) activities taking place here in Copenhagen. Last Sunday, my parents, my daughter and I took a walk through the city. We started at Rådhuspladsen (the town hall square), where we had the incredible luck of witnessing Desmond Tutu (yes, the very one!) speak. Now he really IS a phenomena and very entertaining, that old man.

Afterwards (and after some hot cocoa in a café) we joined a lecture on a plant-trees-project in Sudan, which sounded really good. It took place in a Mongolian yurte and what a fascinating structure!

We also passed a lot of other exhibitions on our way through the city. Here a bronze cast of a life-size ice bear skeleton has been clad with ice to mimic fur and flesh. As you can see, a lot of it has already molten away. What a great way to symbolize the trouble the ice bears are in due to the melting ice! And what a beautiful and interactive sculpture.

The city is brimming with different languages and ethnic looks –far more than usual and I love it. However, many of them seem very cold and no wonder: They only wear very thin jackets. But then again: What is the likelihood to be able to acquire a winter jacket in Sudan for instance? Hence an acquaintance of mine started a quick gathering of used winter jackets to donate to our freezing guest. Now that is hospitality for you!

A very large grop of our guests have come to demonstrate -some in a very violent way. Here is a YouTube video atempting (and clearly succeeding) to enroll the angry young people of the world:

Its very efficiant. I am absolutely against those riots, but its still a very catchy video. Unfortunately... basically I think they are right. Capitalism (paired wth general human nature) has gotten us where we are now climate-wise. But I completely disagree with the means to protest! Police has of cause taken its precautions, erected temporary prisons in cages within sports facilities and enrolled forces from all over the country (remember: we are only 5.000.000). Companies like Shell and 7-11 have prepared too:

Soon its all over. I so hope the result of the COP15 will link Copenhagen to something positive unlike Kyoto. So pray to whatever force or diety you believe in that they will succeed!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Art nouveau butterflies

Noone who has seen my work can be in doubt about my style-preference: I just adore the soft, biomorph whiplash lines of art nouveau. especially the french version like my absolute hero Lalique

So of cause I delve into one of the most cherished motifs of art nouveau: the butterfly. here is a brooch I made some time ago:

It has, as most of my brooches, an interesting backside:

It's Danish (of cause) and means "or am I awake?" Obviously intending the sentence "Am I dreaming?" in front of it. See more pics here

Recently I created these lovely earrings, a somewhat more contemporary take at the art nouveau butterfly, but still very nice I think:

More pics here
I have fallen in love with the combination of soft curves and a coarse structure, set off with precious stones. This one I'll explore a bit more I think -perhaps experiemnt with the ken boo guilding on the front? And definately other stones too - I have some lovely amethysts that would be stunning!

Butterflies FTW!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My top-professional photo studio

I have been frustrated for long.

I create great jewelry, but the pictures I make of it just doesn't do it justice! My x husband, who is a very gifted amateur photographer used to take the pictures and they were great. Look at this one!

But even though he's the best, I still don't want to beg him to take pictures every other day. So, I needed to come up with a solution that I could handle myself.

I have followed the advice of taking pictures in daylight, but honestly: winter in Denmark is VERY dark, even at noon. The result was dull pictures :-( By accident (while browsing on Flicr) I stumbeled on an instruction in taking great pictures of jewelry and from there how to create the right setup. Next thing I knew, I was buying the following:

1 cardboard-box (foldable)
1 roll of gaffa tape
1 white pillow-case
1 500 W halogen work lamp
1 sheet of white cardboard

Sounds utterly professional, right?

Well, I cut out the sides of the cardboard box, covered them with the white fabric from the pillow case (using the gaffa tape), put in the white cardboard and set up the lamp outside of it. Adding an additional and smaller halogen lamp in front of the open box, I all of a sudden had created an environment with light enough to take a lot better pictures! Here is what it looks like:

And a close-up on the "stage":

So what's the big difference?
Lots of light which creates this dreamy and sumptuous ambience. Take a look at these two before and after pictures and you'll know what I'm talking about.



Obviously it also helps to try o push your camera to perform its best (still haven't tweaked everything possible with mine I think) but I'm afraid that I'll have to invest in a better camera some day. Thing is, I have a pocket camera. A very decent one from Canon, granted, but still - it just can't handle a few things and it's impossible to entirely circumvent the auto functions. Especially focusing on shiny objects is seemingly tough -fairly annoying when the item to be photographed is shiny jewelry.

But no matter what: I love my new setup and truly believe that my pictures have increased in quality - and hence also convey the quality of the jewelry. Now it's "just" taking all those pictures, cutting them in Photoshop and re-uploading them instead of the old ones. That will take some time. Oh well... :-D

Friday, November 27, 2009

A lecture from a very wise designer

Sometimes, while doing tedious housework, I like listening to lectures from It's allways so inspiring and I am going through many different topics. Today, I heard the graphic designer Paula Scher talk about design and the difference between serious (which to her was the playfull and realy creative frame of mind) and solemn, which can still result in great products, just not true development. This is 22 minutes of a wise woman talking on the design process and how you, as a designer/artist devolpe (or not). Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cousins for cake and jewelry

Last week-end I had most of my female cousins over for a BYO cake and chat get-together. It was SO cosy and when we talked about what I was currently doing, obviously I was talking jewelry -and showed them the goods now I was at it. That turned out to be quite fun! There was a lot of oohhs and aahs and "wouldn't this look lovely with these purple ones?" -amongs stuffing ourselved with cake, obviously. And two of them even (took pity?) and bought some from me! :-D

Eventually they all ended up trying out some of my tiaras and I just had to get a snapshot. Slightly blurry, unfortunately, but I still find it's a great picture. Love ya girls!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My "Gold Storm" resin experiment

Years ago, when I was studying at the Institute of Precious Metals, I did a few experiments with casting resin and I realy wanted to work with this material again. Now, here in Denmark, that isn’t very easy due to the fact that you can’t buy Easy Cast or any other similar product. It has apparently been decided, that this product is too dangerous for the regular Jane Doe to work with.

That of cause isn’t stopping me I just had to find a similar product, sold as something else than “crafting material”. And I succeeded, with the help of a colleague, Lene Hald (see her amazing and very modern jewelry here She told me to buy epoxy glue (!), more specific Araldite 2020. Yay! Well, apart from the fact that this is an industrial product, impossible to buy in any DIY store, but is only sold by the industry. However, Lene had a connection, and so I drove (thank you Michael for borrowing your car) to northern Seeland in order to buy half a kilo of industrial glue from a factory producing plastic components.

And THEN it was time for my experiment! I created two sets of frames by bending narrow strips of silver sheet and soldering them closed.

Here they are, ready to be filled:

Then I set up for the casting: Cut out four squares of a plastic folder and treated them with four different agents to release my work again: (olive)oil, silicone (actually a make-up primer from Gosh), bees wax and molten stearine/candle wax. Here we have the entire line-up with the Araldite and the gold leaf that I was going to put into the resin in small pieces. This is genuine 24 carat and the color is stunning –just like the gold from the ancient Tut Anch Amun grave in Egypt. I love it!

Here I have poured into the stearine mold, which was the one that worked the best. The others of cause (doh!) leaked the resin and so had to be refilled when it was half hardened. So not only two resin-casting-processes, but also a LOT of tidying up afterwards! I guess I knew that –the stearine experiment shows it, but I was kind of hoping that the weight of the silver would be enough to keep the frame down –noooot!

I let the whole thing cure under a dust cover for 2 days and then used literally hours to cut off the spilled resin, file and sand down to make both sides absolutely level and smooth. The final result came out quite nice though:

So, what did I learn?

1. Loose frames have to be anchored and have a bit of walling unless I work in two rounds

2. Wax and stearine are a bit too messy to work with and leave some residue to be scraped off

3. Oil and silicone both work well

4. Use old fashioned play dough (the kind that doesn’t dry) for fixating and walling

5. Wait for 2 hours before pouring the mixed resin. It is very slowly drying and the small gold flakes will just fall to the bottom if the resin hasn’t started to cure just a little bit

It took way too long to create these earrings with all the renovating, but I’m still very satisfied with them and now know how to do it better the next time.

Would you like to buy these earrings? Do so here

Monday, November 9, 2009

My first custom made piece within Etsy

I got a convo on Etsy regarding my “Silver waves -Soft and chunky sterling silver and 18 carat gold ring art nouveau style”. I was asked if I had one in the size 6 (this one is 6,5). I don’t, but I have a few more of the untreated and freshly cast versions, which can be made smaller by cutting out a section of the ring shank and then re-soldering it. I asked the customer if she wanted to use to opportunity to have it custom made to her specific taste and she grabbed the chance. She wanted the ring very much like the original, but with the surface structured instead of polished. In addition we decided to put yet another ball of gold onto the last curl.

Once all the details had been agreed on, I happily went to my workshop today and here is the process:

When I had reduced the size I set out to file away the casting grooves and in the same process provide the surface with a structure. To me it made sense to take advantage of the many curved surfaces that meet and part and let the filing direction follow these surfaces. The result, I realized, was very much like the fur of my old cat Sebastian –a fantastically beautiful Abyssinian. These cats are very slender and agile and their short fur (with tickings) show off their amazing body to the max –and so did the filed surface of this ring! Here I have partly filed it –to show the difference

Here is the finished version with the original raw –and freshly cast one. The white is hiding the shine of the underlying silver very efficiently…

Then it was time to bend the gold wire, which took a little trial and error since it had to bend in two different directions and fit perfectly before I could solder it on. It’s always somewhat nerve wrecking to work with gold since it’s such a darned expensive material –approximately 40 times more expensive than silver! In order not to let any of it go to waste, you collect the filing dust on a sheet of paper as you work and save it for later cash-in.

After soldering the gold on and etching, the ring looks finished in shape, but awfully dull –the white zombie-look from the freshly cast version is back.

So, into the vile-smelling oxidization-bath (only to be done outside, in spite of the rain pouring down) and out comes something almost as dull looking, but now darker.

I love the transformation that happens when the final polishing sets in. It’s a bit like my childhoods magic markers –I t looks horrible, and all of a sudden, magic happens! Same here –Silver starts to shine and the item in my hands turns into a gorgeous piece of jewelry. Here it is (to the right) together with the original (to the left)

Nice, isn’t it?

If you want to buy the original, you can do so here. The “naked” version, without any gold or oxidization is here.

This story has an add-on:
Sadly, my customer experienced a terrible mishab: One of the bigger golden balls fell off! Obviously I hadn't been soldering it thoroughly enough and of cause took it back immediately to change it. Then we atsrted chatting again. perhaps a few more changes, now I was at it anyways? Another structure? Even a stone? Eventually, she decided on a cool champagne colored diamond in a tube setting and a very special allmost fur-like structure to the surface. What a customer! Here is the end result:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My tumble polisher has arrived!!! Hooray!

Naturally I had to immediately create something that used the full potential of it (polishing and hardening is tumbled long enough) and so I threw myself into creating a chain consisting of 38 individual links. Most of them are curly, but 13 of them are just oval hoops. The curly ones are just SO my style although a bit of a hassle to create:

First I ran up one or two ends with the torch (basically melting the tip of the silver wire, which then behaves like any other liquid and shapes a drop. In order to get the right curve to the finished shape, I angled the wire to almost horizontal, forcing the drop to hang almost sideways from the wire).

Then I shaped the individual hoops (and I mean individual –no two are the same) and soldered half of them close. After etching I hammered chosen parts flat in order to lend it the art nouveau “schwung” I always crave of my lines and started assembling the soldered hoops with the still open. Soldering the rest of the hoops too was a tad challenging: a lot of small pieces of solder to place and NOT to accidentally tilt off again. And noooo… I was too lazy to do it in small quantities – I did the whole chain in one go! Luckily I succeeded *grin*. Afterwards I hammered details on the freshly soldered chains -now much harder to get to right becaus eof the links they were connected too, but I managed quite well.

And so the new tumbler came into use and didn’t let me down: After 4 hours of tumbling (these are delicate things, so I wanted them to harden a lot to keep their shape) I was very satisfied with the result.

However, after having looked at it for some hours, I decided to add a little extra and replaced one of the round hoops with one made of 18 carat gold. You don’t notice at the first glance, but it’s just so cool and understated and makes the whole thing very special.

It took me over 6 hours to create this chain (plus tumbling of cause), but I am very satisfied with the result, and hurried to take a picture of my mum wearing it.

By the way:
When I was listing this chain on Etsy I measured it and counted the links: There are 38 links and it measures 83 cm! Spooky, eh?

This necklas was sold end of november. You can still see more pictures of the finished item here. I loved it and will therefore probably create something similar again. Perhaps with some set stones?

Halloween pictures

Haloween came and went –and we went to the party. Here are a few pics from the preparation and party itself (costume and grand make-up in use). Enjoy!

Before (everyone look as fat, dull and boring as possible!)

During the preparation

After (hooray! Let's party!)

And one of yours truly with her main prop: the absinth bottle -yum!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The fat fairy comes to life

I’m finally done with my Halloween costume! About time given that the party is tomorrow. I’m on my way to Claus’ –the venue of it – to help him decorate and cook, but before, I wanted to show you the pics.

So, I want to be an Absinth fairy – a Victorian/Art Nouveau one, mind you! With a BMI close to 28, I’m nowhere near fairy-like, but I found this lovely picture from when absinth was booming and Toulouse Lautrec was having “the green fairy”-hallucinations along with the rest of the bunch. Now THAT’S more my body type and so, I’m in!

This is one of many drawings I made in order to figure out how to design the outfit. In the end it came pretty close, although I chose to lose the layer of black lace and go more for green.

When Vinni was there to create her Corpse Bride costume, I managed to sow the basics of mine, create the bare wings and do the headpiece (which I’m working at here). That’s made of a dry cleaners hanger (like the wings, which was a hassle: the metal was far too hard/brittle to be shaped, so I had to anneal it in my workshop to make it soft enough to work with), black fabric orchids (la fleur du mal – the flower of insanity) and lots of glass beads. Gaffa tape to hold it together –less charming, but efficient ;-)

I also got started on the belt, which is quite complicated, since it’s sown like a corset: It consists of two layers of sturdy, yet somewhat elastic cotton and is boned on the inside for every 5 cm. The outside I embroidered, partly with my normal sewing machine, partly with glass beads in a non-symmetrical art nouveau pattern. It took forever, but came out pretty nice. I did the pearl work when Vinni and I visited our friend Michael for a sumptuous dinner and to see Twilight as a prequel to seeing new moon in November.

Again I paired happy social life with equally happy creative tinkering when I visited Susi yesterday, because I decorated the wings on her dining table (I don’t think it got any stains, though quite a bit of green glitter, I’m afraid)

And today I finished all the small details off, put the wings together, made the “sleeves” and attached them and took a photo of it all.

And this is the entire outfit, minus make-up, black panty hoses and long, high-heeled boots. You’ll have to imagine those or hope that someone takes pictures tomorrow.

I hope you’ve had as much fun creating your costume or at least will have tons of fun partying tomorrow. Happy Halloween!