Saturday, September 29, 2012

Holiday Gift Giving: Buying Handmade

With the holiday season right around the corner, many shoppers have already started planning their purchases.  Most will choose to give items that they find at their local malls and stores but others are looking to craft fairs, art markets, small boutiques, and online sellers who specialize in handmade artisan goods.  I applaud those who expend the extra effort necessary to find unique, handmade presents for their families and friends.  I think that this is even more important now than in the past due to the difficult economy and onslaught of foreign factory-made goods that do nothing to support our small businesses.

Etsy has a "buy handmade" campaign each year and redirects to Etsy.  But, that seems hypocritical considering how many fake "handmade" items are available.  So, I won't be grabbing their badge:

Etsy's Buy Handmade Pledge Badge

but will, instead, be using my own.  Look to the column on the right.

I chose the shops of people who I know make all their items by hand.  I admire their work and do not consider the links to be ads but rather a curation of sorts that is no different than creating a pin board of favorites on Pinterest.  The first eleven boxes within the badge link to shops where you will find wonderful, handmade items.  The final box, links to a Pinterest board that is loaded with handmade gift suggestions.

Unlike Etsy, this isn't a campaign during the holiday season but a badge that I intend to keep up all year long because real handmade is always in style!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Handmade Supplies Added

My husband makes my jump rings in all the smaller sizes (up to 12 mm ID) and I make the larger ones which I cut with my jeweler's saw.  To be quite honest, we started making our jump rings because I couldn't find a source that had reasonable prices.  Now that we make our own, I know exactly what they should cost to make while still making a reasonable profit.  So, I've decided to start offering jump rings in Libellula Jewelry.  To start, I've added copper jump rings in an assortment of sizes in bags of 100.  And for those who make chainmaille or would like to get a variety of sizes for their studio, I'm happy to offer 10% off on quantities of 500 and over (a mix of sizes is fine as long as each size is at least 50 jump rings).
  • What sizes (gauges and inside diameters) do you use most frequently?
  • Do you use copper, sterling silver, bronze, brass, enameled copper?
  • Do you ever use or would you consider using 1/10 Silver-Filled jump rings?  
  • How many jump rings do you like to purchase at once?
  • Do you like to buy one size at a time or do you like multi-size packs?

5 mm ID 18G copper jump ring
Well-Tumbled and Smooth

4 mm ID 18G Copper Jump Rings
(100) 4 mm ID 18G Copper Jump Rings

I also added a multi-pack of copper and brass ear wires in a variety of shapes and colors--just for fun.  I am considering offering brass, bronze, and enameled copper ear wires. 

assorted handmade copper and brass ear wires

Friday, September 21, 2012

International Day of Peace

"The International Day of Peace, a.k.a. "Peace Day" provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date."

Maire's original post:
and the blog that she started: got a lot of us thinking about how we could increase awareness about the pursuit of world peace and how we might get our "positive vibes" out there to be felt by others.  I think that most people chose to make actual flags but I've not been in a fiber frame of mind during the last year.  I've only spent a little time crocheting and knitting when in past years, it's been almost impossible to separate me from my hooks and needles.  I chose to go a completely different route.

When I started thinking about my submission to the flags for peace project in recognition of the International Day of Peace, I first made a list of images that are associated with the concept of peace.

  • Peace symbol created using the semaphore symbols for N & D (nuclear disarmament)

rainbow peace sign

  • “V” hand sign using index and middle fingers (In WWII, it meant “victory” but was adopted by war protestors as a hand symbol for “peace”)

Winston Churchill Signing V For Victory

  • International Peace Flag (rainbow flag with the word “Peace”)

Rainbow Banner
  • Olive Branch [Goddess of Peace (Eirene or Pax) held an olive branch in her outstretched hand & symbol was later adopted by Christians]
  • Dove (Christian motif)

  • White Poppies as used by the Women’s Cooperative Guild who wished that the white poppies that they distributed would serve "as a pledge to peace that war must not happen again"

  • Buddhist motifs such as prayer flags and prayer wheels (they suggest the arduous path to inner peace and eventual world peace)

Water-powered prayer wheels

  • Outstretched helping hand

Gandhi Peace Festival Poster w/ Outstretched Helping Hands

  • Hindu and Jain motifs (There is a variety of symbols for “ahimsa” or peace of nonviolence which served as the basis of Hinduisn, Jainism, and Buddhism.  This was the core of Gandhi’s beliefs and teachings.)

jain symbol of Ahimsa, dedication to non-violence and self-control

As I pondered those symbols, I realized that I did not want to fall back on those because most of them have their origins in religion or are actually considered subversive (the circular and hand peace symbols) by certain segments of the American population.  I wanted to make something that could symbolize what I believe embodies “peace”.  I first chose an evergreen tree but realized that it could be confused with a cedar of Lebanon.   So, I simplified my choice to that of a green leaf because a leaf that is green is still alive and growing and can represent our growth as we walk our individual paths to inner peace.  A green leaf can symbolize environmental balance.  I believe that we must return nature to her proper balance before we will ever be able to attain “world peace”.  I think that understanding nature leads to a greater understanding of man.  It is my theory that the universal needs such as food, clean air & water, unpolluted land on which to live and farm, and human rights will be what eventually unites the world in the common goal of “peace” because all the wars are not furthering those goals.  These wars of ideology are not helping anyone.

My object is not a flag to be hung outdoors but is instead a pendant to be worn to remind the wearer that the goal of world peace will be attained only through the works of each individual.

A rectangle of poplar wood is layered with etched copper that has a leaf-shaped window with crocheted green cotton thread peeking through.

The back of the pendant was branded with the words “Path To Peace” and a spiral as a physical representation that the path to peace will not always be easy or comfortable.

The individual stitches of the crocheted cotton represent each of the many things that we can do to achieve the goal of “world peace”.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Items For Autumn

pistachio green stoneware pendant with handmade chain
Stoneware Pendant With Handmade Copper Chain

Stoneware pendant was made by Mari Marson of .

Dalmatian jasper, cranberry quartz, Carnelian, Royston turquoise, & copper long necklace
Long Necklace With Dalmatian Jasper, Cranberry Quartz, Royston Turquoise, & Carnelian

Necklace Closeup
A Bit More Detail

Dalmatian Jasper & Copper Choker
 Dalmatian Jasper & Copper Choker

The photos were taken before I made more of my etched copper dragonfly logo tags.  I've now added tags to all three necklaces, as well as, several others in the shop that were without.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Longing For Autumn

These make me think of Autumn...

Orange Enamel Leaf Earrings
Orange Enamel Leaf Earrings by Bantering Bird

Raku Buddha Necklace
Raku Buddha Necklace by Ex Post Facto

Flower Shaped Raku Beads
Flower Shaped Raku Beads by Spinning Star Studio

Rustic Stoneware Owl Pendant Bead
Rustic Stoneware Owl Pendant Bead by Slate Studios Supply

...all were found on Etsy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

22 Gauge Copper Headpins...

are now listed in the supplies section of Libellula Jewelry on Etsy.  I've made them in the past for custom listings but have not had them listed until now.

22 Gauge Copper Headpins (3" or 7.6 cm long) In Three Finishes Or Multi-Pack:


Monday, September 10, 2012

Don't Forget To Enter!

Contest is open to everyone:  US & international!

Note:  Please leave comment on original post--not this one.

cherry quartz & copper earrings
Winner Will Be Announced October 1st

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Favored Method For Antiquing Brass

I have never really liked brass very much because it doesn't react well to liver of sulphur.  Instead of producing an antiqued patina, it just looks dirty.  It would be easy enough to purchase a professional patina fluid (Jax, Sculpt Nouveau, Birchwood Casey, etc.) but I like to use the most natural methods whenever possible.  I've struggled to get a finish that I actually like because I don't like shiny brass.  I moved to satin finish and then to hammered so that I could break up the light and reduce the shine but I quickly tired of hammered both.  Green and blue patinas were easy to produce by using Jax Green, vinegar, salt, and ammonia.  But I have definitely found my favorite method.

I read about a method used to antique recesses and details in gold (gold doesn't react to liver of sulphur) jewelry which entails plating the item with copper.  That is the same method that I use to copper plate silver solder seams.  I wrap 0000 steel wool around a toothpick and dip it into old (blue-green) pickle and rub it over the solder seam.  The reaction between the steel and the pickle causes a chemical reaction that plates the copper molecules in the pickle onto the solder seams.  In the example of gold jewelry, the entire item is plated leaving a thin coating of copper.  The copper layer is easily removed from the high points by using 3M Polishing Papers, etc. and the copper remains in the recesses and will darken when the item is treated with liver of sulphur.

That gave me the idea to make use of the copper gilding that occurs naturally when brass is annealed.  Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc with zinc being the more volatile or unstable of the two metals.  When brass is exposed to the torch flame, the uppermost layers of the metal are oxidized but the zinc reacts more readily leaving behind less of the zinc and a pink gilding of copper.

I first need the thin layer of copper.  Fold formed or hammered pieces have already been annealed, zinc depleted, and are copper gilded.  After the item has been pickled to remove firescale, the pink layer of copper is revealed.  For etched brass, I like to plate the piece using the blue-green pickle and 0000 steel wool method. 

Peachy-Pink Cu Layer on Fold Formed Brass
Peachy-Pink Layer of Copper on Fold Formed, Annealed Brass

Those who wish to return the item to the original, raw brass appearance, usually remove this by using a special pickle made with a 1:1 mixture of  pickle (I use vinegar & pickling salt) and hydrogen peroxide.  Not removing this layer or copper gild gives me a surface that will react with liver of sulphur to produce antiquing.  I then hand polish the piece with 3M Polishing Papers to remove the copper from all the high points leaving the copper in only the recesses. 

Disc Polished With 3M Polishing Papers
Disc Polished With 3M Polishing Papers

After that, I tumble polish the item as usual.

Tumble Polished Disc & Domes
Tumble Polished

The item is then treated with liver of sulphur in the same manner that I would treat a piece that is solid copper.  The copper gild that remains will react with liver of sulphur to accentuate the metal's detail and pattern while the raw brass portions react minimally.

Disc & Domes Treated With Liver of Sulphur
Treated With Liver of Sulphur

After a hand polishing with a Pro Pad or 3M Polishing Papers and a few rubs with a Sunshine cloth, the item is finished.

I can feel good about using this method and recommending it to others because it is an inexpensive, environmentally friendly method of antiquing brass.
If you try this method or have already been using it, I'd love to see the results!  Please feel free to leave your Flickr or other photo-sharing links in comments.

9-10-12 Edit:
 Brass Was Plated With Copper, Tumble Polished, & Treated With Liver of Sulphur (Not Yet Hand Polished)

L:  LOS-Treated Copper Plated Brass (Polished) R:  Polished LOS-Treated Copper

Monday, September 3, 2012

Crossvine Necklace

I live in NW Florida and find a lot of inspiration in the natural beauty that is all around me. We have the quartz crystal white beaches of the Emerald Coast, pine flatlands, gorgeous springs, wildlife, and our colorful native plants. One of my favorites is the crossvine with its red trumpet shaped flowers and shiny green leaves.

When I saw the beautiful red stoneware flower pendant made by Mari Marson of, I immediately thought of the crossvine.  I know that the shape isn't exactly the same but it definitely inspired me to make a necklace.

photograph of a crossvine in bloom
Crossvine:  Bignonia capreolata 
Photo Credit:  Stan Shebs

crossvine necklace by Libellula Jewelry

detail of crossvine necklace

clasp & back of crossvine necklace

close up of crossvine necklace by Libellula Jewelry

The necklace is made from a combination of handmade elements and commercial beads (copper, Kazuri, red jasper, & Czech glass beads).  I made the bead caps, etched copper bail, wire "vine", fold formed leaves, headpins, and clasp.  I also treated the leaves, some of the copper beads, and a pair of the bead caps with Jax Green to produce the mottled green patina.  Those were sealed with spray lacquer and Renaissance Wax.  The other copper elements were treated with liver of sulphur and polished to bring out the detail.

Please visit Mari's Etsy shop to see the variety of lovely pendants, bracelet focals, etc. that she has made.  She also has other pottery items and handmade jewelry.  You'll find plenty to inspire you and you might a few goodies that you *need* ;)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Handmade Copper Clasps

Just added to Libellula Jewelry on Etsy:

handmade soldered copper clasps

handmade soldered copper clasps

More items will be added this week!

Earrings Giveaway!

It's that time again--the bi-monthly earrings giveaway.  Again, I would like to thank all my readers--followers or those who drop by occasionally.  The contest is open to both domestic and international entrants and the winner will be announced on October 1st.

cherry quartz & antiqued copper earrings

 Cherry Quartz and Antiqued Copper

The ear wires were handmade by me but the spiral headpins are the work of  The earrings feature faceted rondelles and plain round cherry quartz beads topped with geometric copper bead caps from India.  I purchased a strand of them from Beads of Cambay when I attended the Intergalactic Bead Show in Nashville a couple of years ago.  Their website no longer lists that particular style but they do have a nice selection of copper beads and bead caps.

Here are the ways that you can enter:

  • Follow this blog using Google Friend Connect (if you don't already) = 1 entry
  • Follow either or both of my Twitter accounts (@LibellulaJewelr & @cicadasilver)  = 1 or 2 entries
  • Tweet about this contest = 1 entry 
  • Tweet about an item in my Libellula Jewelry Big Cartel shop = 1 entry
  • Link to the contest from your blog = 1 entry
  • Pin an item from either or both of my Etsy shops (please remove price from photo) = 1 or 2 entries
  • Be sure to leave your email address in the comments and tell me all the ways that you have entered (8 possible entries per person)
 Best of luck to everyone who enters!