Okay, so I learned how to use the scanner to upload some black and white drawings!

Shiitake capShiitake sideEnokidakeOnigiriSwirly

Bahahahaha!30 mins

Alright, I’m working on that multiple-spiral form I mentioned to you all before, though it’s still generic enough that I haven’t played with it as much as I’ve wanted…so I’m not releasing my in-development toying-around, yet.

Yesterday I was able to turn in a couple of things (including an 18-page paper worth 30 points), which was a big weight off of me.  I did just find out tonight, though, that one of my professors has something due during Finals week!  😮

I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay, though.

These sketches are from the little moments in time between studying that I’ve allowed myself to doodle.  In particular, the mushrooms are from yesterday 😛 and the “30 mins” image (along with the two on the far right) is from that day when I was “mindfully wasting time.”

The far right image is just something that I did to show myself the difference between a Lumocolor marker and a black Copic…I’m fairly certain I used the 100 (Black) Copic marker right there, and then drew over the top of it with a Staedtler Lumocolor.  (I haven’t yet tried the 110 — “Special Black”, with the Lumocolors.)

Similar things happen with Sharpies, though I try not to use Sharpies for anything I want to last.  They’re pretty notorious for degrading/yellowing paper (among other surfaces — they’ve actually seemed to eat through some tape I marked on — not only did the writing seep through to the surface below the Artist’s Tape, but the plastic below yellowed; though that was over about seven years of aging), and fading.  But pretty much all markers are notorious for fading; it’s just that some won’t damage the paper as much, or the ink will last longer (pigment inks are said to be more lightfast than dye-based inks, though I’ve never had an image on my wall in the sun long enough to notice).

I’m not sure what will happen with the Lumocolors — they were a gift from a family member.  The pens say that they’re refillable, which is probably why my family member bought them.  The Copic SP Multiliners are supposed to be refillable (I’m using the disposable version), but I don’t use them hardcore enough yet to have to refill them, replace the nibs, etc. (though it might not be a bad idea for those super-fine nibs like the 0.03 and 0.05 that can easily kink).  Rapidograph (technical pen) is also an option, though I’ve never tried one, yet!

And, right!  The varied-width lines in the mushrooms I drew (from imagination, it’s probably obvious) are from a Pentel Pocket Brush pen.  It’s really sensitive to pressure and flicks of the brush tip, and is ideally held upright to take best advantage of this.  The hatching and cross-hatching of uniform width is with a Copic 0.03 Multiliner, although there is very slight line width modification even with a fineliner.  It’s just not obvious like with the brush pens!

The grey on the musubi/onigiri (rice ball with nori, or the triangular spiral, fourth from the left) is some kind of Copic marker (I honestly wasn’t paying attention to which one I used), while I’m pretty sure the linework was with a Fine-width Lumocolor pen.

And the lettering…was just me messing around!  I have been trying to find ways of incorporating ideas from other scripts into play with English lettering, though I haven’t shown it much, here.  The “for art” text in the lower image is in Medium-width Lumocolor, while everything else is in Fine-width (except the wavy line under “Lumocolor”).  I find that because of the way this ink pools (and the tips may as well be felt), the two pens I used weren’t as good for varying line width.  However, they’re good for consistent line width.  One annoying thing, though:  I found that the Lumocolor Fine pen tended to catch on the page and spatter.

Oh, right! and I wanted to mention the paper!  I got the pad which these were drawn on for notes in a class.  It was a really inexpensive pad I got from Barnes & Noble (the brand is “Piccadilly”).  It looks like the MSRP is $12.95, but B&N almost never sells them at that cost.  I’m sure it was likely around $5 or less — I got it because it was a cheap enough experiment.

There are issues with bleed-through — the inks (particularly the Lumocolors) can seep through one page and onto the next.  (You can see this in my first Shiitake image, upper left corner of this post.)  That wasn’t a large issue with the Copics or the Pentel; though Copic markers will likely bleed through given heavy enough application.

The reason I like this pad, though, is that the surface of the paper is very smooth and very white, kind of like opaque marker paper; and the proportions of the working area are interesting.  It’s spiral-bound at the top, meaning that I don’t have to worry about compensating for binding issues.  And — it was really inexpensive, so I don’t have to worry about destroying or blowing through an expensive pad of paper (which is sometimes something that can inhibit me).

I am hoping to get what I need to get done, done sooner rather than later — though I’ll try for getting everything done in a week, I can’t guarantee it.  After that, I will have plenty of time to play!  Well, until Summer School starts.  :/  🙂  But actually, I do think I do better with something to do.  It’s amazing what I can get done when I focus!  (And yes, focusing does involve, sometimes, taking five or 10 minutes to draw mushrooms!  Or lying down for 15 or 20 minutes.  It doesn’t have to be a marathon, I know that now…just so long as I can concentrate…)

😀 😀 😀

(And before anyone says anything:  Yes.  Yes I am thinking of working in black and white and scanning it.  I don’t know if it will be a comic…but it’s fun!)



These are some of the photos I mentioned in the last post.  Click the images to see the photos without writing over the top of them.  Enjoy!


More acrylic inks, you say?

There is a lot which has happened between my last post, and now.  Significantly, everything which was not already late was turned in on time.  I got the technical exercises out of the way first (including a botched Cataloging quiz — I’m not sure to what extent I’m concerned about this, anymore), then spent all of Sunday on my Literature Review for Research Methodologies.  The day after was mostly spent asleep (I felt like I earned it), though toward the end (my memory is fuzzy, but I think this is right), I started experimenting with the FW Acrylic Inks, again.  I think that’s what this was:

From 3-13-2017, lest I forget.

This was just mostly playing around with color.  I meant to post about it yesterday (Monday the 13th, I mean), but I didn’t have the energy.

You can see that I had started to make marks over the top of the acrylic inks with the colored pencils.  Those are my Progresso Woodless colored pencils…where the marks are bold, I was pressing pretty hard.  Anyhow, this was just me messing around with four to five colors.  (Crimson, Purple Lake, whatever they call Phthalo Green [I think it’s “Marine Blue”], Rowney Blue [Phthalo Blue] and a yellow which looks like Hansa Deep…I just checked, it’s called “Brilliant Yellow.”)

Of note, I have seen no evidence of an Ultramarine equivalent in the FW Acrylic ink line (which would make more vibrant violets) — and I just went to the art store, today.  It’s very probable that it isn’t made because they want all the colors to harmonize, and the palette of the FW inks leans toward warm tones.  (It’s really easy to make clashing colors when the original colors are not well-coordinated…)

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it causes the color mixing range to be limited.  With Daler-Rowney making so many of these colors, though, I can see where they would like to limit their financial risk in color production.  Especially since it seems like many have trouble mixing colors as it is, without venturing into “mud” territory (I may have said this before, but I think mud — dull color perceived as “lifeless” — can be rescued).  But maybe I’m just spoiled on the good stuff…

I have gotten pretty tired color out of Prangs (note that some people can make gorgeous art with Prangs — and they aren’t really bad for what they are — nontoxic, inexpensive colors that flow well and wet easily and have comparatively good color strength for the price range), but that just caused me to stop using Prangs for colors that Prangs aren’t strong in (for example, cool red).  The problem is that when one starts out with a dull color, it isn’t necessarily going to get stronger with other colors added to it, unless those other colors (or hidden hues in those other colors) dominate the first, or can mute a dominant hue and support a hidden hue.  (I can expect someone to ask me what I mean by this, and the truth is that my left brain [words] doesn’t necessarily know how my right brain [art] does what it does.)

Let me get off of that.  Anyway,  😉  playing around with this stuff caused me to go out to an art supply store and replace my two broken Progresso pencils — which, finally, they had.  $0.74 each.  While I was there (first time to the art store in a couple of months), I picked up some hot-press watercolor paper (I have been after this for ages, but this is the first time I actually bought any:  it requires a special trip, as I haven’t seen Blick to carry many inexpensive [read:  not Arches] hot-press watercolor pads or blocks), and I also picked up a variety of earth-tone FW inks, because I may be using these for cartooning, and in that case, I’ll want consistent color and color that doesn’t move when it’s re-wet.

Neither of these things are going to happen with watercolors, unless I mix large batches of skin tones and let them dry in a palette.  Even then, there is the risk of movement when subsequent layers of color are added, though I’ve heard this can be mitigated with the addition of clear acrylic glazing medium at the time of painting.  (I haven’t tried it, yet — but be aware, addition of acrylic medium will make anything mixed with it not able to be reused, after it has dried.)  The FW inks don’t seem as intense as artist-grade tube watercolors, but they feel more controllable, and more suited to reproduction work.

(I go back and forth as to whether these inks or watercolors are more intense…after some experience, I’ve got to say that it depends on how much you thin them!  When I first used these inks, I was thinning them way out because I didn’t want to waste them.  In short, I was skimping on them [you basically have to lay out all your colors before painting in order to have them quickly available for mixing and altering other colors — and you have to say goodbye to all of what you’ve laid out at the end of a painting session, with acrylics], and it is obvious when I look at my first attempts at using these.)

On cold-press Canson Montval paper.  Ink is from a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

The above image is something I was messing around with…as I realized at home that two of my colors (Yellow Ochre and Red Earth — neither of which are constituted as one would think they would be) were both rated as opaque.  Obviously, though, this is relative.  For example, with Payne’s Grey (though it may be due to the fact that it is blue-grey), you can’t really tell that it’s overlaying the black, here.  Pure Burnt Umber, as well, goes on and does not mask the underlying black drawing at all — you can see at center right.

However, you can see a tiny bit of overlap in the foreground here with the Red Earth (the only red used here) and Yellow Ochre overflowing their lines in the center swirl.  It also happened in the thing that looks like a tree trunk to the left, which I am fairly sure was a mixture of multiple colors, including red and yellow earth tones.  Possibly also white.  (I’m not sure, but I should add that last bit.  White is obviously not transparent, though be aware that the FW acrylic white, isn’t a dense white.  Daler-Rowney Pro[cess] White, though?  I’m not sure about that — I’ve seen it used as correction fluid and for highlights.  If I ever reach the finishing stages of a piece of art with this stuff and actually use the Pro White, I’ll let you know.)

What this means is that I will have to go back in and touch up areas where I have painted over lines which I need — if I use heavy coats of color.  (The colors being bound by acrylic resin, helps ease my concern of clogging nibs, in this regard.)  Pale washes, on the other hand, don’t really fade the linework noticeably (to me, at least).  One of the things I did realize, though, is that it is WAY easier to work with these super-fast drying acrylic inks on a small scale.  If I had wanted to, I could have avoided overpainting these lines, because my brush was that small and the shape was that small…but this was a test.

I’m not sure if it is the fact that I can see the colors of these inks through the bottles that makes me want to use them, but I’m sure it’s related to that.  I’m thinking of clearing out one or two of my small palettes to use for everyday watercolors (that is, not the specialty ones which I have to think about including, like freakin’ Aureolin).

Freaking Aureolin.

Okay, I’ll stop.

Oh, right.  I also have been trying to work on drawing people again, though they’re imaginary people.  I do have some photos of these, but to be honest, they’re pretty horrible (middle-of-the-night) photos, and I’m not even altogether that proud of the work anymore.  It was fun last night, then I looked at it again today and realized my character had Vegeta proportions, so…

Right.  I think I know what’s wrong, and it should be easily fixed.  It’s what happens when you draw the head before the body.  Still, though:  I would really like to photograph this in daylight, rather than releasing it to the wild and *cough* messing up my *cough* reputation *cough* 😉  Hehe.

We all screw up sometimes, it’s part of being human — and being an artist means you screw up OFTEN and REPEATEDLY until you can learn other ways.  😉  So the best thing to do is be gentle on yourself, and maybe not even call it “screwing up,” but “having a learning experience”.

(When is the Internet ever gentle, though?  SHUT UP ANXIETY BRAIN.)

Okay, I’m being told to get some rest now.  I do have to get up in six hours.  JOY.  JOY OF JOYS.

Eh, at least I should be able to get some (home)work done at lunch…

More acrylic inks, you say?

I did have an idea behind this post earlier today, but I’ve since forgotten what it is…

…it must be the hour.

However, I was able to take some photos before the sun set, today.  I’m not sure how many of them would actually be interesting to anyone but me, but…well.  I just took a shower and am waiting for my hair to dry before going to bed.

Earlier, I did what homework I could…until meaning stopped coming out of my reading.  At that time, I got out the cabochons to see if I could pair any with the lacy pink thing.  What I got was this:

glass cabochon (~1″ tall) plus various trial netting swatches.

…which was kind of interesting. I realized that I might have some Czech seed beads which matched the cabochon exactly.  Because I recently reorganized things, I knew exactly where to look:

This is what a hank of Czech seed beads looks like.  I was talking about how Czech round seed beads are usually sold in hanks, half-hanks, or strands…these are loops of thread with beads threaded onto them, knotted together at one end.

These beads, I got a long, long time ago, at a store which closed down for (likely) good reasons.  I’m not sure of the name of the color, but they have a rainbow coating on them like the above cabochon (called AB, or “Aurora Borealis”), and they’re pretty close in color.  I’m fairly certain they’re size 11º.

I’ve wanted to use my cabochons in bead embroidery before, but haven’t, because I haven’t had the beading foundation you see in the background of both of these images.

Beading foundation is like stiff interfacing, and in some cases can be literal normal interfacing, like the kind used for sewing (usually it’s called “Pellon,” for the brand name, at least where I live); however, what you see above is called “Lacey’s Stiff Stuff” and is supposed to be really good, in terms of holding stitches and not stretching.  It can be hard to find in person and expensive once found, though.  This piece is about 8.5″ x 11″ and bought on top of bulk discount pricing, so it wasn’t …individually, that expensive.  😛

I do have Pellon interfacing as well (at one time I was trying millinery), which has a bit more give to it and is much thicker.  I had heard not to use it, though, in one of my books (Dimensional bead embroidery, by Jamie Cloud Eakin) because Lacey’s is supposed to be better for this specific task (i.e., bead embroidery).  As a consequence, I put the idea aside…for too long.

More Czech seed beads…strung in hanks, and loose in a bead tray.

The photo to the left displays two hanks of Czech size 13º seed beads…I think.  The pink ones may be 15ºs — which will help in bezeling cabochons.  The coppery ones are likely actually glass coated in copper (there is a term called “Galvanized” which might apply to these, but I’m not sure because of the circumstances under which I got them [bead convention]), and are called “Charlottes” because one side of the bead is ground into a flat facet.  (No, I don’t know the origin of the term.)

The triangular thing is a stackable bead tray, here with some of the Czech 11º seed beads you saw in the hank above — only here, they’re loose and ready to use.  Of course I came back into the house today and promptly accidentally overturned the (entire) tray onto the floor…with a jacket cuff or something.  Hunting stray beads happens frequently, here.  And it doesn’t help that they bounce, roll, and scatter on linoleum, and can get totally lost in carpeting.  Though holding a light parallel to the floor helps to find them, at least when they’re shiny.

Fairly certain candidates for the netted necklace.

This, to the right, is a photo of the beads I am fairly sure to use in this project…the exception being the copper beads (unstrung from the above hank) in the lower right vial.

I did some work taking inventory and found that altogether, I have 80 of the “Peaches and Cream” dagger beads (upper right) and 96 Fuschia 4mm Czech firepolished glass beads (far left, center).  Each inch, about, of the pattern I made uses four dagger beads, and maybe 5 firepolished ones.

Given this, I have enough beads for a 20″ necklace…at least, in outer diameter.  The three long center vials are Japanese seed beads (typically sold in vials); the two on the right contain size 11º, while the one on the left contains size 8º.  I’m pretty sure that the far right vial of these center three contains dyed glass, however, meaning those beads are unlikely to stay that color forever.  Everything else, though…I think is relatively stable (though I’m not sure about the size 8ºs…which came from a different supplier that doesn’t give marks for lightfastness).

Oh, and:  the little short vials on the far left and far right, did not come with these beads.  They’re the “tiny” vials I mentioned in earlier post with regard to storage.  I got them from a store which specializes in plastics and fiberglass, for about $0.20 each.  This is kind of crazy inexpensive, when I see that there are smaller clear containers (the AMAC tiny ones) which cost 4.5x as much and are less secure.  If they weren’t $0.90 each, I would buy them to store crystals, but seriously.  That’s kind of a splurge, for storage.  (It wouldn’t be, however, if I were selling gemstones or crystals — as I’ve seen those boxes used before.)

I did have an idea behind this post earlier today, but I’ve since forgotten what it is…

Record for today (I forget these things if I don’t write them down)

I think I’ve remembered that I’m in grad school, and thus, no one is watching me to make sure I do all my practice exercises.  😛  In any case, I did attend the meeting tonight, and feel relatively much better — especially after having gotten through the chapter on Dewey (except for Dewey Abridged, which I just skipped — as we’re going as specific as possible, and the Dewey Abridged section repeats a lot of material).

I’m getting to the point where I can look at my wrong answers and see where I made a mistake, so this much is good.  (I’m also really glad that I bought this book, because there are highlights all over this chapter, not to mention I’m doing a number on the spine.  The book is about 2″ thick, so…)  The section I read today did clarify a lot that I didn’t know — particularly, through examples.

I’m now on the second half of the lecture that was given about a week and a half ago (I’m still behind), but I don’t have to do any more new textbook reading, for now.  Well, I can; I probably just shouldn’t — I should concentrate on the upcoming graded exercise.  What I did do tonight — other than the meeting — was complete Exercise #4, start in on #5 (there are seven for this unit), go over some mistakes, and start rereading and working through the Week 3 Lecture Notes.

It seems like a lot of getting the answers correct depends on picking the right trail to take through the site, and one doesn’t know the correct trail, necessarily, unless one reads the notes at each juncture.

Right now I can’t bring myself to work further on the (interactive) lecture, largely because of being faced with a textwall where it comes to entering into working on Table 3B.  I guess intimidation isn’t a good excuse, though, because that textwall is still going to be there, tomorrow.

Did I do anything fun today?  Not really — the help session was kind of the high point of it.  I also haven’t exercised in a couple of days, which I’m not really happy about, though I am still losing weight.  Yeah, I guess last night was my fun time.  I did find the photo I was thinking about in my last post, though:


This is the image which I’ve been scared to start painting, because I know it isn’t going to turn out the way it looks in the photo.  Plus, I love the photo.  I could do a watercolor version of this, but I’d have to use masking fluid for large areas of sunlight, and I’m a bit paranoid about becoming sensitized to latex via fumes or skin contact.  Or maybe I can use tape?  I didn’t think about that until just now…

I can see how I could work into this image with Permanent Rose and Phthalo Green/Viridian Hue (in watercolor), or Quinacridone Magenta and Phthalo Green and Blue (in acrylic) and maybe a warm color like Indian Yellow…then there is the question of the background.  Is it possible to mix a shade akin to Hooker’s Green, without actually using Hooker’s Green?  It’s probably possible…I just have hated Hooker’s Green since I first got exposed to it in colored pencils, but maybe the pencils were just dull.

I suppose, what do I have to lose, right?  Besides time.

I do have a lot of reading coming due for Metadata, but I’d rather miss the 1.5 points for the Discussion Post than the 100 points for the Dewey exercise.

And I still don’t know how to underpaint, though maybe if I made things in Phthalo Blue/Green and white with gesso, it would provide a good foundation for the rest of the project.  One of the big strengths of this image is the limited color palette, though…something I’ve found with botanical images in general.  Plus, the high value contrast between the shadows and highlights.

I guess if I mess up, I just gesso over it…

And no, I’m not sure whether to use a limited palette or the more complex color mixing I’m known for…the latter would likely be easier, so long as I stick with the same palette through the whole thing…(like adding violets and such — things not emphasized in the photo — would be interesting).  My teacher used to tell us “not to become a slave to the photograph” and that only laying out certain colors was like “trying to conduct a symphony with only a few notes”.

Yeah, the worst that can happen is that I just paint over it…as long as I don’t use textural media…

Hey — maybe I can do a small version of it before the 30″x30″?  I have a 12″x12″ board gessoed and ready to go…it’s much less of a loss to lose a square foot of Hardbord!  And I can practice my color combinations on it…and my drawing in charcoal.  And I have another side if I totally mess up.

I made a note to myself last night as regards sharing my images…that there’s no way for me to keep a creative work entirely to myself, unless I don’t make it.  Once it’s shown or heard or read, it can be copied; but the alternative is self-silencing, which seems to defeat the purpose of creativity.  It’s like being a singer who sings beautiful songs, but only when no one else is around to hear.

In that case, does the problem really lie with selfishness, as I’ve assumed, or does it lie in fear of judgment (or even esteem)?  What’s the value of being creative if no one sees what I create?  Of course, I’d still create, because that’s a key part of who I feel myself to be, at this point; but it’s like hoarding…which would seem to be the opposite of what I came into this world to do.  Creativity is for sharing…right?  It can’t do its work if no one knows about it…

Record for today (I forget these things if I don’t write them down)

photo dump…(implicitly spiritual)

Yes, I am perfectly aware that I will likely have to spend all of tomorrow, studying.  Especially as I came home, ate, lay down in bed, and slept until 9 PM — nearly through dinner.

I’m kind of getting a bit tired, though, of not working visually.  With that in mind, I’ve been browsing my image archives and pulling out things that interest me.  It’s after midnight here now, though, meaning I’ve been working at this for about two hours.  And…I’m having a hard time putting things into words.  Sorry about the lack of context, here:

I’m a bit…a tiny bit shaken by the idea that I may be an artist pursuing a path in Library Science because Art doesn’t pay well.  🙂  And it’s hard.  Maybe I should stop saying it isn’t easy, though.  Do you think that if I told myself, “yeah, Art is easy!  Let’s do it,” I would have an easier time at it?

Sounds like that webpage I read sometime last decade where the author was saying that his friend told him (in Japanese) that “Japanese is easy stuff,” and his comment was, “yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my ***.”

Anyhow, I’m making this page in large part to remind myself of what I find interesting, artistically.

I can see a trend with organic forms…and a gradual movement from monochrome to full color.

I also see pretty much nothing here painted in acrylic, which…maybe tells me that I find the medium a bit intimidating, although the intensity of color I get out of acrylic is higher than what I get out of watercolors.  I think the heavy body paint in Liquitex is also stronger in chroma (intensity) than my FW acrylic inks, as well.  Drawback:  I paint with acrylics in a way that others say looks like watercolor…

I could keep going, but I think that’s enough for now.  (Some of these images have been published before on this blog; some have not.  I fully realize that by releasing them to the wild, they may be copied and reused by others.  Can’t help that…)  This is basically a blog entry for me (reminding me of what’s important in life), but I bet you’ll enjoy it, too.

I should also remember that acrylic paint has a shelf life and needs to be used before it cures in the tube, or the tube itself biodegrades…


There’s a photo here that I’m missing, precisely because I want to make a painting out of it.  I can’t find the copy of the image I printed, and it is now 12:40 AM:  a bit early to restart PhotoShopping things again.  I have a copy of the image by me.  Maybe I can find the file after I get my work done.

photo dump…(implicitly spiritual)

Evidence of work ;)

Yes, it actually does help me stay balanced, to work with my hands.

I have a bunch of photos from tonight.  I’m thinking that if I keep taking close-up photos of tiny things, maybe I should take a Digital Photography class…or at least try and figure out how to use this camera off of the “Auto” setting.  It would benefit me to be able to take quality photos myself; and the skills would also be salable (say, to people in my current position).

As an aside, classes did start today, and I have some work I can start in on.  Unfortunately, most of it is introductions, and despite seeing the new semester coming, I did not adequately emotionally prepare myself for telling other people who I am.  I also need one more piece of information before I can submit a request for accommodations for my last class…but it shouldn’t be too much of a pain.

The top spiral is 18g red brass wire, dead-soft.

Anyhow…the other night I was playing with that red brass wire, right?  Red brass is also called “Jeweler’s Bronze,” even though it isn’t actually bronze.  It’s a copper/zinc/lead alloy, as versus a copper/tin alloy.  True bronze is actually copper/tin, and from what I’ve heard, it’s rather brittle, making it suitable for nice castings, but not so much for wire.

I was really pleased with finally getting this stuff, because on the catalog page, the photograph of this wire is fairly terrible where it comes to color.  The photo on the left shows how it compares to the brass color of Artistic Wire (which is a brand name, just to make sure you know).

The wire here which has the Pip beads on it (those three copper-finished glass seed-shaped beads at the bottom) is a finer wire, 22g, and is natural brass tone with an anti-tarnish coating.  That coating means that I can’t forge with this wire beyond a certain point, because I can’t assume it’s safe to heat it with a torch.  Weirdly enough, on the product description pages where I found Artistic Wire actually being sold online, there seems to be a color difference between the raw brass and anti-tarnish coated brass.  However…I no longer have easy access to a place where I know I can color-check this.

The thicker wire on top, with the little bubble coming out of the spiral, is the new 18g wire I picked up from online.  This is raw brass.  This means that it will tarnish (and/or patina); however, it can be polished…and polished, and polished.  The brass color won’t come off of it, because it’s solid to the core, not coated copper wire.  In recent years it has also become popular to wear antiqued metals, as well.  The ring which this piece is hanging out of is antiqued brass — sold that color.

I’m thinking that the metal bead caps here are Vintaj nickel-free brass, or someone imitating them.

It’s interesting…at least two to three years ago, there was an upswing in the usage of nickel-free brass alloy.  This was mainly due to the Vintaj brand selling a lot of filigree-style components which could be bent and formed around other components.  An example can be seen to the right:

I used copper earwires because that’s what I could find, though find now that they set off the green of the large glass beads here nicely.

I didn’t take any photos of the insides of those new plier jaws…though I’m not certain it’s that important.  The things only cost $7, which could be why brass rubs off on them.  The insight I came to when I did push myself to work with this wire and the new set of flatnose pliers the other night, though, is that it’s very much a different process to use the materials than to pick out and buy materials.

This is a more complete view of the first subject.  I need to figure out some way to put these on a stand so they don’t wobble when I photograph them.  D has suggested an eraser and some paperclips.  🙂

The piece on the left, above — the spiral with two loops — seems like it has a lot of possibilities, but I’m not entirely sure what they are, yet.  I’ll have to play with them some more, before I’ll be certain.  By the way — the spiral component on the far right, above, is the same design as the link in the center, but done in a finer gauge of Artistic Wire, not the 18g wire.  Here is a closeup of that one, seen face-on:

this was just for fun:  that’s not 18g wire.

I’m wondering what I can do if I turn the “bubble” portion around so that it is perpendicular to the spiral, and then have a hidden link so that I could drop beads down, which would then appear to emerge from the spiral?  I’d have to do something about closing up that opening at top, but it’s an interesting possibility.

I should also note that I’m thinking about playing around with something I’ve seen called “Egyptian Spiral Chain.”  I’ve messed with it before, and it’s a very…kind of addictive pattern, just because the components form up very quickly, and the chain itself feels very solid and heavy once one starts to assemble it.  The major problem, I’ve seen through one of my classmates’ experiences, is the clasp:  The version she made was prone to loss.  I do, however, see an appropriate fix for this on the first page of Google Images.

The piece I was working on prior — the one with the macrame which I was scared of putting online?  I did take some pictures of it, seen below.  I also realized, though, that what I actually needed to do to photograph this was not to photograph myself wearing the neckpiece in the mirror, but to hold the camera up to face myself, and look at the viewfinder in the mirror.

close up of focal

The main reason I even got the 18g wire is that I didn’t have any wire heavier than 20g in a yellow color (and yellow is significant to this design).  This meant that those rings which are holding onto the bells (which in turn hang off of the mother-of-pearl ring), are subject to deformity because they’re so thin.

If you’re wondering how I made the rings so large, it’s because I was using what are called bail-forming pliers, online?  They’re really invaluable for making large rings, though.  Before I remembered I had these at my disposal (their protective coating in machine oil [ugh] had caused me to put them away and not touch them for years), I ordered a $9 set of dapping punches in order to use the handles as mandrels.  However…with the inexpensive dapping punches I got, the manufacturer didn’t really pay all that much attention to the diameter of the handle…so they aren’t as useful as I had hoped they would be.

In my Silversmithing class, that is, it was apparent that the dapping punches were high-quality, and also that they had different-sized handles available for “swaging” (or forming a sheet of metal so that it is curled along one axis only [as versus two for “dapping” or doming], possibly lengthwise).

And, of course, the dapping punches came heavily coated in machine oil, as well.  Gross.  I guess they didn’t want them to rust, in storage.  Which is why they put them inside three boxes and three plastic bags and drowned them in petroleum…

Luckily, though, the bells hanging off of the pendant at present are in very little danger of falling off.  The brass rings had to be drastically opened to get them around the relatively thick mother-of-pearl component, and the loops which are physically part of the bells are wide enough that the bells are probably not going to slip off.  I just would like the connections to be more durable.

I don’t have any photos of this piece in-process, though.  I probably should have photographed how I got the inner disc to float inside of the mother-of-pearl ring…I tied it in with thread while I wrapped and knotted the connection at center top.  After it was securely in and I had the bottom of it secured in wire, as well, I cut off all the threads…and still had to rotate the piece to center it (as the mother-of-pearl ring is not consistent in thickness and width, the disc rests differently inside the ring [as regards being centered or not] depending on the location of the connections).

I think the only piece I haven’t showed you yet is this one:

scarab pendant

This is almost entirely, at this point, getting its identity from the center bead.  I’m fairly certain this is a Swarovski scarab, which is new for this season.  I got the flat-nose pliers because I hoped to be able to make closer and cleaner bends in wire when doing wirework, if I had pliers without a lot of thickness at the tip.  As things are — I really under- over-estimated the overall size of the pliers, so as a consequence, what I thought were really fine tips, turned out to be somewhat fine tips.

All of the metal in this piece (minus the wire it’s hanging off of, just for this picture) is sterling silver.  That means I had to buy sterling beads and a sterling bail…though, luckily, I was already buying sterling beads, because in the long run it seems cheaper to make earwires than to buy them ready-made.  Some skill and knowledge is required, though:  for example, the ends of cut wire need to be rounded or filed or sanded so that they don’t rip piercings when the earwire is inserted.  Also, the loop at the bottom of the earwire, in best design, needs to be centered under the center portion of the top bend of the earwire.

That bail, by the way — I’m talking about the tube portion of it, topmost — has a lengthwise opening of about 2mm.  This means that I can pass up to four lengths of C-Lon (I believe I’m talking about the standard size, not the heavy size; though I’m not certain) through the opening.  C-Lon is an industrial upholstery thread which comes in tons of colors (or did, last time I checked).  S-Lon, from the best of my knowledge, is parallel, but came about after C-Lon…though that conversation is a little weird, given what we’ve been talking about recently on the blog.

I basically had to put spacer beads on this scarab bead, too, because the drill hole is so freakin’ big that the headpin (that is, the vertical wire with the stopper that the scarab is hanging off of) might have passed through it, or broken through it, on a bad day.  I do have two of these in different colors, but still…too beautiful to destroy.

Right now, I’m working out how to make the cord that is going to be the other major component of this piece.  I’m actually not sure how I will do it, yet, though I am looking at doing something delicate and lacy like a Lark’s Head sinnet…just not sure how that will integrate, and it will definitely not necessarily take up all of that 2mm!

Evidence of work ;)