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Cleaning Green – Care Tips for Your Base Metal Jewelry!

Over time base metal jewelry will tarnish. Kept in-check it can add character to your designs... but when it gets out of control there are easy (and green!) cleaning methods you can use to get the maximum enjoyment out of your design.
Over time base metal jewelry will tarnish. Kept in-check it can add character to your designs… but when it gets out of control there are easy (and green!) cleaning methods you can use to get the maximum enjoyment out of your design.

 

Butterfly Sundries’ etched jewelry is treated with a darkener before sealing (and shipping!) to add depth and contrast to the design, but over time other colors can appear on the jewelry. If you look closely in the picture above, you can see green tarnish is beginning to show up between the letters on this Butterfly Sundries’ Shakespearean Insult Cuff.

If things like this have kept you from ordering base metal jewelry, or if you’ve noticed this effect on some of your pieces, this post is for you! First off, don’t worry; tarnishing is a natural process. It can show up in a number of different colors, depending upon metal type, including black and green among others. This process can be reduced, delayed and corrected by following the care instructions listed below.

 

How to care for your etched designs from Butterfly Sundries…

Rule of Thumb:

Whenever you take off your copper or brass jewelry, wipe it down with a clean cloth; this will help to reduce the time that sweat and oils from your skin have access to the copper or brass (it will also prolong the benefits of the wax sealant applied before it was shipped to you).

Cleaning (Go Green!):

Put your copper or brass jewelry item into a bowl and pour in enough of one of the following to fully immerse your piece: lemon juice, white vinegar (you may want to add a little salt), tomato ketchup, or Worcestershire sauce. You can let it stay in the solution for up to 10-20 minutes (no longer!). If the jewelry is especially dirty you may want to change the liquid a couple of times. (If you intend to use a sealant like wax on your piece, put on gloves now!) Use an old toothbrush or soft cloth to “scrub” the design clean (If you use a toothbrush, be careful; the darkener I painted onto your design could be scrubbed off if you clean too deeply into the etched areas!). Run water over the jewelry to rinse. Now use soap and water to thoroughly clean and dry your piece with a clean soft cloth.

Polishing:

Feel free to use a polishing cloth on your etched designs from Butterfly Sundries! This is a good option if you want to keep a certain amount of tarnish in the etched areas for contrast (as I did for the picture above), but want to renew the brightness of the raised areas.

Sealing

After cleaning I recommend using a wax sealant to protect your design. (Important note if you intend to seal your item: once your item is cleaned, I highly recommend using gloves whenever touching your design until after you’ve applied a sealant! You don’t want to seal the oils from your fingertips onto the surface of your design. Trust me- I learned the hard way!) Good options are car wax or Renaissance Wax (what I use). After applying the wax, buff your jewelry with a soft cloth and it’s ready to be worn again!

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Blessings for Prosperity

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I’ve always loved the idea of jewelry pieces with stories or meaning. Some people wear jewelry with prayer boxes, others wear charms with great symbolism, and many choose stones based on their attributed powers or meaning. While many (even most!) of my designs Continue reading Blessings for Prosperity

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Inspired by Artist Lydia Makepeace

One of my Etsy friends and shop owners, Lydia Makepeace, has gone through a remarkable evolution in the expression of her creative voice. I first became familiar with her work when she sold (primarily) jewelry; in fact, her acorn necklace was so beautiful that it inspired my very first Etsy Treasury: “Squirreling Around… Awh Nuts!” Over time, I’ve continued to be amazed by her work as she’s given her primary focus to her paintings.

 

I have found, while our mediums are different, I never cease to find inspiration in her work. Her use of colors and textures always give me ideas for new jewelry expressions in my own work. And, her willingness to always challenge herself to new heights reminds me to strive to add new skills to my repertoire (rather than becoming too comfortable in what has become “easy”).

 

One of Lydia’s recent paintings caught my imagination; as soon as I saw it, I wanted to create an etched pendant inspired by it. Of course, I don’t want to steal her work or fail to give credit- so I tossed the idea aside and set about focusing on other projects…. until I remembered she had a birthday. Finally, an excuse!

 

Sometimes, as artists, it can be easy to wonder whether or not anyone appreciates our work. Compelled to create, but separated from those who appreciate and purchase our work, sometimes we can feel like our creations get lost in the abyss. We put all of our heart and soul into something, it sells (sometimes after a long while), and then we often won’t hear anything about the piece ever again; we simply hope that it found a home in which it will be appreciated.

 

So, for my dear friend, I decided to give her the gift of a reminder. I made for her a two-sided etched copper pendant. The front has an etched botanical pattern, inspired by one of her paintings. It’s my hope that she will always remember that her work, her voice, is appreciated.

LM Pendant

The back of the pendant has the word “inspire” with a few decorative “splotches” of paint. This side is a “thank you” for all the times she has inspired me, and the expression of my hope that she will never stop painting (or inspiring).

Back of LM Pendant

On a personal note, I can’t recommend Lydia’s shop enough; I am an enthusiastic follower of both her Etsy shop and her Facebook page! Her birthday pendant is now on its way; help me give her an even bigger gift by checking out her shop and following her on Facebook!

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Custom Hair Barrette

This beautiful 80mm etched copper hair clip was created as a custom order for one of my clients.
This beautiful 80mm etched copper hair clip was created as a custom order for one of my clients.

In general, I’m very particular about which custom orders I’m willing to add on to my schedule. After years of making jewelry and accessories, I’ve learned there are qualities that have to exist in the relationship between myself and a potential client before it’s worth the effort. Recently I accepted a custom order and remembered all the reasons I enjoy doing custom work (in the best-case scenarios).

This original Butterfly Sundries hair clip, currently available on Etsy, was the starting point for a client's custom order request.
This original Butterfly Sundries hair clip, currently available on Etsy, was the starting point for a client’s custom order request.

I received an inquiry from a client about a hair clip which is available in Butterfly Sundries’ shop on Etsy; she liked the design, but wanted a larger barrette and a different size copper plate. Reworking a design, which was made to fit a wider plate, to be attractive with smaller (width) and longer dimensions is a challenge.

 

Because the design was a modification of the existing design, and something I could translate to new designs, I waived my usual artist design fee. But, I still had to pick out the key design features of the original and modify them to be attractive on a smaller scale. I drew up three initial modified designs using the measurement guidelines given to me by my client. Once completed, I sent the sketches to my client so she could tell me which she liked best and give feedback.

I did three initial design sketches, using some of the primary design elements from the original hair clip design.
I did three initial design sketches, using some of the primary design elements from the original hair clip design.

 

When my client responded with her preferences (she liked designs 1 & 2). I combined those two designs and moved them to the copper plate for etching. Using tape to protect the edges and the back of the copper, and my favorite resist to protect the areas I didn’t want etched, I sent a picture to my client for any last minute feedback of changes she might want before etching.

 

This photo was sent to my client before etching for any last-minute feedback before etching.
This photo was sent to my client, before etching, for any last-minute feedback or changes.

 

Once etched, the remaining solution on the plate had to be neutralized and the plate needed to be cleaned. After applying a patina to provide an “antiqued” appearance, a wax was applied to protect the surface.

 

After neutralizing the etching solution, applying the patina, and some initial clean-up, it's finally possible to get a real idea of how the design will look as a hair clip!
After neutralizing the etching solution, applying the patina, and a little cleaning, it’s finally possible to get a real idea of how the design will look as a hair clip!

 

A little shaping, drilling and riveting… Voila! A brand new custom hair clip is done and on its way to a new owner!

 

It's done! This gorgeous etched copper barrette was a fun custom order... and thanks to the inspiration of my client, some new (different) hair clip designs will be coming to Butterfly Sundries soon!
It’s done! This gorgeous etched copper barrette was a fun custom order… and thanks to the inspiration of my client, some new (different) hair clip designs will be coming to Butterfly Sundries soon!
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Finding Inspiration in my Creative Roots

 

This etched floral cuff took design elements from the sketches and doodles of my artistic roots and brought them into the form of jewelry design.
This etched floral cuff took design elements from the sketches and doodles of my artistic roots and brought them into the form of jewelry design.

 

In school I was a doodler. Almost every paper I turned in had margins that were covered in sketches- vines, flowers, animals, cartoon characters from my imagination. In college, the trend continued (at least until graduate school) with faculty who would appreciate my sense of humor; I would include cartoon shorts in the cover pages, often pertaining to the subject matter of the paper itself (that got really fun for me when I was studying the different psychological theorists- each major theorist had a dedicated cartoon-animal counterpart with its own individual personality quirks). While some would take the practice as a sign I wasn’t paying attention in class- in reality it was my way of staying focused and creating visual representations of what I was hearing; my doodles helped me remember the content of the coursework.

In a moment of insanity, I recently decided to open some of my boxes still unpacked from my last move (a year ago); I was happy to find papers covered with sketches- and inspiration for new jewelry designs. Choosing a few of my favorite elements, I began the endeavor of creating new jewelry designs which integrated some of those elements into new copper etching designs. This is one of several designs with elements from my creative past which are coming to Etsy; I hope you like it!

 

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Jewelry Art- For Blessings & Prosperity

When I first received a collection antique silver coins, I felt so inspired by the beauty of the Arabic calligraphy on them. The smooth sweeping lines- I wish my writing were so beautiful. The coins made me think of beauty, blessings and prosperity. I decided to make a special design to represent those ideas- with the hope that it will also inspire its future owner.

The design you see etched into the copper pendant is the word “Bless,” written in Arabic calligraphy. With the initial blessing, I chose to add two kinds of stones (hematite and garnet) which are traditionally associated with manifesting dreams into reality… to symbolize all my hope for its wearer, along with three authentic antique silver coins for prosperity. This pendant is one of my favorite items available in my Etsy shop; I like the idea of blessings in physical form.

A note about the coins: These genuine silver coins come from one of the batches I acquired of tentatively identified 17th-18th Century silver coins, from Turkey and Egypt. They came to me with the holes already in them. No work whatsoever- aside from putting wire through the already existing hole(s)- has been done to these coins. They are as I obtained them. Even the patina has been preserved, as it often enhances both the character and the value of the coins.

If you like old coins, you might want to check out my Historical Coin Collection!

This beautiful pendant, a Butterfly Sundries' original design, features the word "Bless" in Arabic calligraphy, along with three antique silver Arabic coins.
This beautiful pendant, a Butterfly Sundries’ original design, features the word “Bless” in Arabic calligraphy, along with three antique silver Arabic coins.