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New Designs for Asheville Art in the Park

Yep, that’s right, Gaucho Glass and I will be sharing a booth at the Asheville Art in the Park show June 12, 19, and 26, in downtown Asheville, NC, from 10 am to 5 pm. So I have been getting ready for these shows by creating some of my unique fine silver pieces and also many affordable jewelry designs, especially lots of earrings, although I haven’t had a chance to put them for sale on the web site yet.

Lava Stones with Pure Silver by Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs
“Moon Stones Bracelet” (Lava Stones & Pure Silver)

One of the unique aspects of Asheville Art in the Park is that it is a local art market that gives back to the community by donating 10% of all sales to a local non-profit organization, which I think is very cool.

Jade Bracelet by Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs
“Grapes” Jade & Sterling Silver Bracelet

Even though they are expecting some rain, I think it’s going to be a beautiful sunny day but not too hot. So come say hi if you are around, and support local merchants and non-profit organizations at the same time!

Crystal and Garnet Earrings by Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs
Crystal and Garnet Earrings

I will try to post a few more designs before the weekend. Till then…

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Interview with Yol Swan on the Jewelry Report

Before I go on vacation (and take a break from everything but my family), I wanted to share with you an interview about my jewelry work on the Jewelry Report, which was published in two parts:

Part I: http://jewelryreport.com/news/interview-yol-swan-sacred-jewelry-and-yoga-designs

Part II: http://jewelryreport.com/news/interview-yol-swan-sacred-jewelry-and-yoga-designs-2

Enjoy!

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Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Someone asked me the other day, “Where does your inspiration come from?” As a business owner and manager, I have to spend a lot of time dealing with business related stuff, learning about and implementing marketing strategies, designing new ads, keeping inventory and books up to date, optimizing web sites, etc., and with all the “technical” stuff going through my head sometimes it can be tricky to turn that switch off and jump back into the creative process of my jewelry designs. You may find yourself in a similar situation if you have a job that is not related to your creative endeavors. Even if you are a full time designer or artist, I am sure that sometimes you wonder what happened to your muse…

I have to admit that it is not inspiration that is generally missing in my creative process, but time to convert all my creative ideas into reality! Not to say that I haven’t had those blah days like anyone else, or doubts about what it is that I am doing. I don’t think any artist or creative type is completely free from those days, ever. But those are the times when I take a close look at myself to make sure my creativity is on the right track. Any designer or artist has to find their own style, their own voice, their own personal statement (that which makes their creations totally theirs), to find satisfaction in what they do. Otherwise it becomes like a mechanical job. I have to make sure I stay true to myself with what I am doing. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I don’t think about who my customers are or how to market my designs. It does mean, however, that creativity and business have to find a healthy balance to keep me sane and to keep the inspiration flowing.

So, where does my inspiration come from? Obviously, it emerges from my own life experiences and interests, but it gets nourished with the creations of other artists and designers. I really enjoy going to a bookstore or the library and browsing books or magazines on art, jewelry, and design (of course I love museums, too, but there aren’t that many where I live now). I browse the internet, too, of course. Not to copy or try to emulate anyone, but to get inspired by the length and depth of human creativity.

To give you an example, today I bumped into a blog post that I find not only inspiring, but also fun and ecologically minded, and if it has nothing to do with jewelry. Plus, it was like the perfect blend of “technical” (read, electronic) and creativity:

Animals from Old Electronic Parts
Animals from Old Electronic Parts

Inspiration can come from looking at shapes, colors, hues, ideas, designs, ads, and pretty much anything in between. That is why I don’t just look at jewelry books, but at a wide variety of art and design sources. It can also come from the feelings that certain music, movies, or conversations triggered in me at any given time. Regardless of where inspiration comes from, I keep myself in check to make sure that my designs come from my own ideas. Inspiration is one thing and trying to emulate someone else is a completely different animal. Not to mention that trying to transform creativity into a selling statement doesn’t work for me either. I am always in search of my own personal style, however changing and evolving it may be. Still, just my own.

Anyway, if you ever feel like your inspiration took a vacation, just give yourself a break  and go to a good concert, talk about the stuff that you like with a friend or other creative types, visit a bookstore, and check out other artists and designers to get re-inspired to find your own voice. Finding your true creative expression can be a challenge, but you have to remember that everything in life is a process and give yourself the necessary mental fuel to feed the creative flame!

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New Art Clay Copper Experiment

Of all PMC (Precious Metal Clay) and Art Clay, Copper and Bronze clays are still pretty new, so there is still a lot of experimentation going on amongst metal clay artists. And here is my second experiment with Art Clay Copper. I want to share here the steps I went through as well as my observations about each step. So here I go…

art clay copper pendant
Putting my pieces together...

Here I am putting together the pieces I want for my copper collage. I notice that the clay gets dry pretty quickly, making it harder for me to manipulate without it breaking or getting little cracks. I tried to smooth the clay out with water, but it was never completely smooth. It had these mini cracks that seemed like nothing, like they could be sanded once the clay dried.

copper clay collage design
Sticking the pieces together with some paste I made

Here I had to make some paste to stick things together, so I used a little bit of clay and mushed it up with Sherri Haab’s paste maker, which I use for silver clay. Now I think that the copper paste would have probably been better with just distilled water and lavender oil instead, because it gets so dry so quickly. I tried to reinforce the spots I considered weaker on the back of the piece, and once it was dry I sanded and reinforced the edges.

firing copper clay pendant
The finished pendant being fired...

After I finished adding all the parts and making sure it was completely dry, I fired the piece on the SpeeFire Cone at 1400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Notice the very red color, which is different than the salmon color you get when firing silver clay.

As the piece was being fired, it bent a little bit, probably because the strips were of different thickness and not flat against a surface. Still, I thought the bent shape actually looked good!

copper clay pendant quenching
Quenching the copper clay pendant

As the pendant was fired, it became darker and darker, as it was oxidized. When I quenched it in cold water, most of the oxidation fell off right in the bowl. I was so excited!

I placed it in a pickle solution to completely remove the oxidized layer and left it in it for over an hour.

Finished art clay copper pendant
The pendant after being pickled and finished

Here is the somewhat finished piece, after being pickled and polished a little bit. You can probably see the small cracks here and there, especially the one on the bottom. I was disappointed to see these cracks and tried to file them, but a couple were deep enough to make the piece unsellable.

The left section didn’t lose the oxidation after being pickled, so I put the pendant in the pickle solution again for another hour, Still, the oxidation didn’t go away and I am not sure why.

In any case, this was an experiment, so after closer observation of the piece I noticed that it was weak and showed cracks in certain spots where I had used the paste, and in other spots where the clay was probably too thin, or maybe was bent while putting the pieces together. This would probably not have happened had the pendant been a single flat piece and not several strips of textured clay.

However, the fresh clay already had many little tiny cracks as it was drying, which was quick, and even though I tried to smooth them out, they were still there after firing the piece and got even deeper. I had filed some of them once the clay was dry, but apparently those little cracks run deep! It seems to me that the copper clay is much drier than the silver clay, at least the Art Clay Copper is (I’ve never tried the PMC Copper clay), and that makes it more difficult to work with. I think I will try to keep it moist and smoother on my next experiment, which will be with a flat piece. I will keep you posted…

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Copper Art Clay Disaster!

Ok, my first try at copper clay turned out to be a total disaster. I am still trying to figure out why the couple pieces I fired split and broke when I quenched them! I am saving one more piece for when I find the answer… When the first one broke I thought maybe I didn’t fire it long enough, so I fired the second one longer, but got the same result. Oh well, you live and learn… A picture of the disaster below:

Broken Copper Clay Pendant

The Art Clay Copper is very dry and somewhat hard to handle, although it feels like real clay because of the color. It seems to dry so quickly, much quicker than the silver clay and be more brittle. My third piece (the one I am saving) actually broke before being fired and I had to make up some copper clay paste and fix it. I hope it will stay in one piece. I don’t think I’ve ever had a silver piece break like that, unless I dropped it. This one broke while I was sanding it. Anyway, we’ll see how it all pans out with this new adventure with copper clay. I will keep you posted as to what I can find out…

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New Year’s Resolutions?

I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s resolutions, and I think that mostly they are about putting more energy into my creative projects. I have been somewhat able to get more organized throughout the past year by relocating and expanding my studio in the basement, watching less TV (not much at all lately), and keeping a schedule in front of me. Of course, there is always room for improvement, as when I was having a hard time re-designing the shopping cart of my site and spent way more time than anticipated…

But all in all, I am learning to be much more efficient with my day, so that I can address all the work related, marketing tasks and my daughter’s schedule, while still having time to make jewelry, take photos of my pieces, and so on. And now, of course,  I am adding blogging, too!

I used to be so overwhelmed by everything I had to do (yes, there are days when I still am), but in general now I take a step back and a deep breath before going too deep into stress mode. I just remind myself that everything is a process and that the energy I put into anything also has its own momentum… To quote Robert Frost on this first day of a New Year: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Yes, everything is a process. I think I will try to post here photos of my creative process, at least of some of my projects. Today I will start experimenting with Copper Art Clay. I will try to post photos. I have worked with copper wire before, but never with Copper Art Clay, so we’ll see how it goes… I love copper. It’s so malleable and pretty, and it has such a wonderful healing energy.

Another New Year’s resolution is to receive regular Netra Basti therapy to keep my eyes healthy in spite of all the computer work I do.

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New Web Site Look Up and Running!

I finally finished the new design for my web site. I had to compromise with the shopping cart and remove a couple images so it wouldn’t stretch out too much, but I may come back and fix that some other time. For now… New year, new look!

So check it out: Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs

Today is a good day to let go of all the sad and bad things that happened this year, and to look forward to a brighter future with hope and a positive, creative attitude.

Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year, filled with love, good health, and prosperity!

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Getting Started…

Welcome to my blog. I am glad you stopped by. I will be posting very soon about my work and some of the design ideas I am working on. Right now I am in the process of redesigning my web site, so it’s a lot of work, but it will be ready very soon.

I redid the template and fixed a few things so that it would be easier for me to change things around if I decide to in the future. I love web design! It inspires me for other work. I love making jewelry, but I also enjoy tremendously taking photos of my pieces and playing with them on the site and such. It’s so much fun! Although very time consuming, too…

Thanks for stopping by!

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