Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice

Summer is here--not that it hasn't felt like it for weeks!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Metalsmithing & Safety

There seems to be an assumption that you must dispose of the liquid after etching when using salt water.  The salt water used during electrolytic etching can be reused over and over again; though, over time, you may need to add more pickling salt and distilled water.   The method for dealing with the liquid is to let the particulate copper fall out of suspension and to then decant the saltwater into another dedicated container for reuse.

cupric sulfate remaining after electrolytic etching

You can wipe the copper slurry out with paper towels or allow it to evaporate further and then carefully wipe out the powder.  I prefer to wipe it out when it is still wet and cannot go airborne.  Either way, you are left with copper that can be disposed of in a closed container in your regular household trash or be taken to a hazardous waste facility.  The key is not washing that copper residue down the drain.  As long as nothing goes down the drain, you won't have to worry about aquatic toxicity.  This method is convenient because it doesn't leave you with bottles of toxic liquid that need to be stored until they can be taken to the hazardous waste facility in your area.

Please remember that the liquid that remains after etching is not the only copper in an aqueous solution that you need to deal with in an environmentally conscious manner.  How are you dealing with your spent pickle?  I save mine and use it with steel wool so that I can plate silver solder seams on copper items.  I also plate brass with it to produce a more pronounced antiquing in recesses.  You'll know when that plating liquid is ready for disposal because the blue green color will be gone and the liquid will have taken on a rusty appearance.  The blue green is gone because the copper is now a part of the item that you plated (and plated onto the steel wool) rather than in the spent pickle.  The rusty color is actually rust from steel wool particles  in the acidic pickle.  After neutralizing the pickling acid with baking soda, it can be safely poured down the drain.  What kind of pickle do you use?  I prefer to use an inexpensive mixture of white distilled vinegar and pickling salt (1 C vinegar :  1 Tbsp. p. salt).  The more prolific metalsmiths might consider that the mist from pickle pots has been shown to cause pitting of the tooth enamel of those who frequently work (factory environment) with sulfuric acid pickles.  I'm not willing to take that risk--however slight it may be.

Here is an article that explains how copper that is "bound to organic matter" is rendered inactive or not bioavailable. 

Ferric chloride is not as non-toxic as some might believe.  I strongly suggest that anyone who works with chemicals or is even a casual, occasional metalsmith take the time to read the material safety data sheets on the products that they use.  Here is the MSDS for ferric chloride.  A lot of information is readily available to us if we choose to be proactive in protecting our health and the environment.

Here is the MSDS for copper sulfate which is the compound (sludge at bottom of container) that remains after electrolytic etching.

Stay informed and stay safe!

Dinner en Blanc

We really need to do this in New Orleans!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why Are My Etsy Shops DEAD This Week?

I'm not sure if it's the *time of year, the economy, some kind of Etsy issue (of which there are many), or my lack of listing new items but both of my shops have been positively dead this week.  I have never gotten daily views this low in the histories of either shop.  It's like both shops dropped off a cliff!

I guess that I'd better start listing items rather than just taking all the new items to markets.  That has to be a big part of the problem; I've been making tons of new items but very few of them have been listed.  When I started making components (ear wires, headpins, bead caps, etc.), my jewelry sales slowed down which resulted in me concentrating my jewelry efforts into creating stock for markets, shops, and galleries.  I'm also unsure if selling components may have been a mistake because many, if not most, people view Libellula Jewelry as just a place for ear wires.  I don't mind making findings but that is not my focus.  My jewelry will always be my focus.

Dear blog readers, which path should I take?:
  1. Continue offering my findings only via my blog rather than keeping them listed in the shop
  2. or expanding my supplies in Libellula Jewelry to include red brass and bronze headpins and ear wires?  My listings currently ask that customers convo me for quotes on findings made from sterling silver, Argentium sterling silver, red brass, and bronze but maybe that's too much effort for someone who wants to place an immediate order.
My eventual goal is to move all handmade supplies out of my shop and into a supply shop (FireFlySupplyShop on Etsy) that will also offer a much more expanded assortment of both handmade and commercial items.  The commercial items would include items that I've purchased in bulk for personal use and wish to pass along a good price (kraft paper boxes, etc.).  My husband will have an expanded role in this shop but his job is currently taking so much of his time that we can't open this shop quite yet.

Any suggestions?

*Same time period last year, (6-1 to 6-13), Libellula Jewelry had 2.25x more views, nearly 2.5x as many favorites, and 3x as many orders.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Weekend in NOLA

Heidi and I had a slow day at Piety Street Market.  I think that the heat kept a lot of people away from the market.  We did have a chance to talk and laugh--especially about our cats.  The newest photos of her kitten, Nigel, are unbelievably precious.  If you don't already read or follow her blog, now would be a good time because a little bird told me that she might be posting some new photos of Nigel. =^..^=

Old New Orleans Gingeroo
I'd like to give Heidi a big public thank you for the bottle of Old New Orleans Gingeroo that she gave me.  She remembered how much I love ginger and that Celebration Distillation is my absolute favorite distillery--SO thoughtful!  Even though it's fairly new to the market, I'm surprised that I had yet to try their Gingeroo considering how much I had been looking forward to trying it.  Back in December 2008, Julie Perschall of Old New Orleans hosted their first pub crawl and gave us the chance to try Gingeroo while it was in it's early stages of development.  I thought it tasted fantastic even back then--not too sweet with a nice ginger bite.  I highly recommend Gingeroo to anyone who enjoys ginger!

Old New Orleans Rum

On a side note, check out the paintings that are visible through their bottles of rum.  Yes; those are paintings by the owner and artist James Michalopoulos.

Saturday wrapped up with my husband, our friend Dan, and me going down to Frenchmen St to hear John Boutté sing at d.b.a.   John was delightful, as usual, and the band was in fine form.  I'm always impressed with Todd Duke who is an excellent Jazz guitarist.  We had just enough time after John's set to get to Pizza Delicious for a couple of take-out slices before they closed.  Their vegan garlic-spinach pizza is heavenly and exactly what I need when I'm not in the mood for cheese which is getting to be a frequent thing.  The older I get, the more I believe that I'm becoming lactose intolerant.

Sunday was another day of fun spent with talented local metalsmith, Kalaya Steede.  She came over to Dan's house and we hung out for a few hours.  We did a bit of electrolytic etching, discussed metalsmithing, and generally got to know each other.  We had a nice exchange of ideas:  I showed her the method that I use for etching and she taught me that I don't need to use PnP as a resist.  I was amazed to learn that I can laser print the designs onto regular printer paper and iron/burnish the images onto the metal.  I had NO idea that it could be done like that.  I can't wait to try it!

enameled copper earrings by Kalaya Steede

Kalaya was a sweetie and brought me a pair of her gorgeous enameled earrings.  The colors are beautiful and remind me of a sunset and I really love carnelians.  Thank you, Kalaya!  If you get a chance to hang out with her, do it.  She is a very intelligent and fun chica!

Before we headed back to Florida, we enjoyed some Middle Eastern take-out from Mona's Café and picked up some Creole tomatoes which are simply some of the best tomatoes I've ever tasted.  I could live off Creole tomato sandwiches on whole wheat bread.  They are that good.

All in all, it was a really nice weekend.  We'll be back in New Orleans for the OCH Art Market in July--indoors, with air conditioning! ;)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Piety Street Market

June 8th Piety Market Flyer

Heidi Post of Ex Post Facto and I will be at the Piety Street Market tomorrow from 11 am to 4 pm.  It's going to be a hot day but Piety Street Sno-Balls will keep you cool while you shop.

I will have lots of my more affordable jewelry with me tomorrow--primarily earrings and necklaces under $50.  This will be my last outdoor market until September so, come out and visit us at the Old Ironworks!

There's plenty of time to get in a little of everything this weekend.  Don't forget the Cajun-Zydeco Festival and the Creole Tomato Festival!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Freret Market and the Red Truck

Freret Market layout
I was not assigned a numbered "assigned" space but my space was designated as a  "100" which means that I could choose any open space numbered as 100 on the layout .  I chose the third space on the right side of the layout.  That should have been a good space that would have had decent visibility and foot traffic.

nuisance truck
Photo taken at the end of the day with almost all vendors gone--but the truck still remains

The red truck in the photograph posted above was parked on the left side where the 100-numbered spaces begin.  I have no idea why it was there or allowed to remain there the entire market day.  Everyone was talking about how it blocked shoppers' views and made it appear that the back section was parking rather than more tents.  The man announcing bands, etc. even joked that he would give anyone who would steal that truck a $100.  It was not a secret that the truck was a problem and yet, none of the market organizers walked back to discuss the removal of the truck.  No one stopped by my tent to even mention the truck and the effect that it was having on foot traffic.
"No vehicles may be kept on lot during market"  I suppose that refers to all vehicles other than a certain red F150.

I get lots of shoppers in my tent and frequent sales when my tent is visible but Saturday was awful.  The lack of shoppers in the back "100" section could not be blamed entirely upon the oppressive heat (the high hit 92°) because the front section was very busy with shoppers the entire day.  The heat didn't keep those people away from the market or prevent them from making purchases from the vendors at the front.

I contacted the market about my concerns but my emails have gone unanswered.  I wonder if there will be a plan in place by September (the next market) in case a vehicle is parked on the lot?   
UPDATE:  (6-10)  I received a reply to my email and my concerns were addressed but I'm still unsure whether I'm happy with the response.  There doesn't really appear to be a plan if the same situation happens again but I do want to participate in future markets.  I'll give it a try and hope for the best but if it happens again, I'm going to give up on Freret.

Lovely Lampwork Bead Giveaway

Julie of Indian Creek Art Glass, is having a very generous giveaway on her blog.  She is giving away a mixed lot of her handmade spacers (smaller lampwork beads) that were made from "mostly premium and odd lot glass".

Look how colorful they are:

lampwork spacers by
Imagine what you could do with these beauties!

Hop on over to her blog and leave a comment so that you can be entered into the drawing.  Each person can get three entries in the contest:
  • leave a comment on her blog = 1 entry
  • mention contest on Facebook & leave comment on blog to let Julie know = 1 entry
  • blog about the contest & leave comment on blog to let Julie know = 1 entry
Julie will pick a winner on Saturday morning.  Good luck!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tropical Storm Andrea

NHC Tropical Storm Andrea track

Our first storm of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season has formed.  Tropical Storm Andrea is expected to have a very short track which will not allow for a lot of development but will dump a fair amount of rain on the panhandle.  Landfall is expected tomorrow evening somewhere in the Big Bend.

As always, stay informed and stay safe!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Anklet Blog Hop

Many thanks to Kashmira of Sadafulee...always in bloom who is hosting this blog hop.  Kashmira came up with the idea for this blog hop/design challenge after giving some thought to the intricacies of designing comfortable, attractive anklets.  They are not quite as easy to design as bracelets due to the size limits on beads and other adornments--too big and they will be uncomfortable against the ankle bones.

I've always loved Indian and Middle Eastern style anklets--especially those with metal discs that resemble tiny coins.  As frequently as I wear long, flowing skirts that would look lovely with a pair of those anklets, I've never worn an anklet.  I suppose that I can attribute that to growing up with a mother who was certain that only "loose women" (her words) wore anklets.  I dared not buy or wear any while I was young and I've somehow let that prevent me from wearing any now that I'm older and should be doing what I want.

I had planned to create a pair of anklets with tiny bronze "coins" but getting ready for two markets got in the way.  I never got around to firing them.  I then decided to make use of some roughly faceted carnelian beads that I've had sitting around.  They are drilled with much smaller holes than I had expected.  22 gauge copper wire fits so, an anklet is a good use for them.  I also had four leftover prehnite rondelles.  I love the combination of the persimmon orange and light green.  I had considered hanging each bead as a tiny dangle but I was almost out of the chain that I wanted to use.  I, instead, rosary wrapped them into an extremely simple anklet.  I usually make four wraps but only made three so that each link would be ever-so-slightly shorter than usual.  That makes the anklet drape a bit better while still ensuring that each bead is securely linked to the next.  I finished the anklet with a simple fish hook style clasp which lays flat and wears rather well.  I had been concerned that it might be a bit too big but it's not.

Libellula Jewelry:  Carnelian & prehnite anklet

carnelian & prehnite anklet
Roughly faceted carnelians, prehnite rondelles, and 22 g copper with 20 g clasp

This blog hop inspired me to make something I want.  I will be finishing the pair of "coin" anklets and wearing them proudly with a long skirt and sandals.  Thanks, Kashmira!

Please visit the other participants:

Kashmira Patel    

Kaushambi Shah

Jean Wells

Mischelle Fanucchi

Shellie Grindie

Ginger Bishop

Monique U

Cynthia Machata

Susan  (you're here)

Kay Thomerson

Mimi Gardner

Anindita Basu

Rita (Toltec Jewels)

Gina Hockett

Tammie Everly

Dyanne Cantrell

Ema Kilroy

Emma Todd

K Morgan

Sharyl McMillian-Nelson

Cheri Reed

Rochelle Brisson

Michelle Buettner

Sandra McGriff

Stephanie Weiss

Shelley Graham Turner

Lynda Carson

Roxanne Mendoza