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In the Heat of Summer…

It’s getting hot (and strangely muggy) in this part of Washington…. So, just as I do every time summer comes around, I’m having serious cravings for white or iced wine. One of my favorite white wines comes from a winery with a tasting room up in Leavenworth, so my goal for the summer is to- at some point- take a day off for a road trip to buy a bottle of wine and bring it back for a wonderful candlelit dinner and some quiet time with my sketchbook….

But, meanwhile, I’ve got thoughts of white wine preoccupying my brain and it’s oh so distracting!

Sorting through a recent bead order, I discovered two Swarovski crystals which were immediately claimed for this new design…

These Tendrils of the Vine Link Earrings feature Swarovski crystals on Argentium silver wire. A perfect pairing for your next wine tasting! ;)
These Tendrils of the Vine Link Earrings feature Swarovski crystals on Argentium silver wire. A perfect pairing for your next wine tasting! 😉

 

They made me fall into a daydream of beautiful summer afternoons with a nice white (maybe an iced) wine! Since I only had enough crystals in this color for a single pair of earrings I had to make them count, so I paired them with one of my personal favorite designs from the Tendrils (of the Vine) Collection. With the Argentium Silver wire leaf swirls, handmade silver head pins and bright crystal colors- I’m having a wine craving just looking at them! These are being saved for next week’s delivery to Ellensburg Canyon Winery/Cox Canyon Vineyards, but you can find the Siam version on Etsy here.

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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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An Inspiring Wine Date

On a recent wine tasting date with my sweetheart, I had the opportunity to enjoy some (absolutely magnificent) wines at Terra Blanca Winery. While I generally worry it’s in poor taste to pull out my pocket sketchbook at the winery while tasting, I freely admit I was fighting the impulse. Their wines are AMAZING! As soon as we got out the car, after tasting, I pulled out my sketchbook and started putting my visual representations of their HEAVENLY wines on paper for future jewelry designs.

 

Now, I’d be hard-pressed to choose my favorite wine (I need to go for several more tastings before I have any kind of firm opinion on the matter) from their collection, but I can tell you… I now have two pages in my pocket sketchbook of designs inspired by (just) their wines (necklaces, bracelets and earrings). They even have a chardonnay I really wanted to take home with me (shocking, as I have always favored the reds).

 

One of the things I love about Terra Blanca’s wines is the complexity of the layers and flavors. Each sip is an experience in and of itself. I feel like I’m sitting down and having an intimate conversation with the wine, getting to know a soon-to-be best friend.  Truly, they have mastered the art form that is the creation of wine…. And theirs is very worthy of every tribute.

 

Here is a picture of the first design, now part of the Tendrils of the Vine Collection, inspired by one of their red wines….

These "Tangled Vine" earrings, a new addition to Butterfly Sundries' original Tendrils of the Vine Collection, was inspired by a Terra Blanca wine!
These “Tangled Vine” earrings, a new addition to Butterfly Sundries’ original Tendrils of the Vine Collection, was inspired by a Terra Blanca wine!

 

Find this and many more designs inspired by Washington wines on Etsy!

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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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Romance & Mischief by Design

Celebrating old romance and fantasy novels with imperfect printing, this new etched cuff is a great accessory for the mischievous!
Celebrating old romance and fantasy novels with imperfect printing, this new etched cuff is a great accessory for the mischievous!

 

I love romance and I really like creating mischief. Blending those two things together isn’t always easy, but I discovered early on that- occasionally- the turn of a phrase can satisfy my desire to have both.

 

As a youth, I read a lot of romance and fantasy novels. A pastor’s brat, there were lots of things I wasn’t supposed to do or say (most of which I didn’t miss, but I felt irritated at not being allowed to watch Dirty Dancing). With ultra-conservative family members (primarily grandparents), I often felt restricted by the rules of propriety which were imposed on me. I learned, however, that the use of a good double entendre could often satisfy my personal need to create mischief or rebel.

 

When I started developing the designs for Butterfly Sundries’ Bookworm Collection (inspired by and supporting my current Featured Charity, Sound Learning), some of the first designs I started sketching drew on those early experiences and memories. And, with Knights of Veritas having also been a recent Featured Charity, I had knights on my mind… which is how this design (which supports both non-profits with 10% of the sale profits, though it is only officially part of the Bookworm Collection) came to be developed.

 

Being a person with a healthy sense of self-preservation, I also learned to always ensure that- should the need arise- I could point to the completely innocent origins of my statement. To keep with my tradition of always having a way out, I included shelves of books on the ends of this design (an easy disclaimer the wearer may use, if needed, for those  with sensitive dispositions or concerns about propriety; I recommend also feigning dismay and shock that their mind would go so quickly to such- delightfully- naughty places).

 

Incorporating my loves for old romances, fantasy novels, imperfect book printing, literature, a passable double entendre and mischief all in one design? My work here is done, at least for now (Yes, it is available on Etsy).

 

I think I’ll go hook up my old VCR to watch my taped copy of Dirty Dancing (one of several “forbidden” movies I taped on VHS, during my youth, and left unlabeled for viewing when my parents left the house).

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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!