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Flowers, fireworks and jewelry design

My inspiration comes from everywhere. This flower makes me think of fireworks and mixed-metal pendant and designs.
My inspiration comes from everywhere. This flower makes me think of fireworks and mixed-metal pendant and earring designs.

One of the things I love most about my personal creative process is that I find inspiration from everywhere. The world is my muse. In some respects it makes my life difficult in that it’s almost impossible for me to completely stop working. In other ways it makes me lucky because I am rarely at a loss for ideas (though sometimes my own skills have not yet developed to the point of implementing them).

A few days ago I was feeling a little bored with my current projects so I went through the photographs I took a few years ago when my sweetheart took me to the Butchart Gardens. This photo caught my eye. At first glance it reminds me of my favorite fireworks from the shows I used to in Grand Coulee during my childhood. But on closer inspection it makes me think of design elements for a pendant, earrings and maybe even a cuff design. Mixed metals, perhaps brass (or gold) and silver…

For better or worse, my initial design drawings are outside of my current skill range (and I don’t yet have all the tools I would need to implement those ideas); I’ll get there eventually but for the moment I’m unable to bring them to reality. But, therein lies another challenge. How can I get creative, with the tools and skills at my disposal, to make something else- just as beautiful and with similar characteristics as my original designs?

 

That challenge fuels my creativity. What tools can I make to expand my options? What techniques can I learn to further evolve my art? It’s these questions that keep me making new designs.

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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!