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.
I recently selected Veritas Medieval Faire as Butterfly Sundries’ newest Featured Charity and I want to tell you why this particular charity event is so very close to my heart. I chose this event because it offers something good, something honorable… and maybe even something compassionate to the residents of Grant County, Washington.
Both Veritas Medieval Faire’s parent non-profit, Kron, and my own business office were victims of multiple thefts during our respective years in Moses Lake, WA; as we shared building space, we both suffered substantial losses simultaneously.
In the case of Kron, the thefts included replica swords used in programming, blunt training weapons used in their educational videos on medieval combat, armour on loan to the organization from their Executive Director, a handcart to make transportation easier, an amp used for the program’s microphone system, a Bluetooth car stereo donated for the org’s vehicle to make long car rides safer and more enjoyable, and more… items used in the service of others, most of which the organization has still not been able to replace.
In the case of Butterfly Sundries, I lost a smartphone, (all but 4 cups from) my Gramma’s Depression-era china set which I was using to inspire a new jewelry line (some of the few items of hers I was able to keep as most were given to other family members), a laptop computer, memory cards for my camera, a welding/torch set for a jewelry expansion, a CASIO keyboard, and more…. None of which have I been able to replace.
As some of the building space was offered to staff or volunteers for free storage, there were personal losses as well… including childhood collector’s items or toys, DVDs, etc.
The losses were heartbreaking. I still feel violated by the intrusion and have dreams related to it. Despite a number of wonderful people I met in the area, my personal experiences and memories are tainted by the sadness I feel.
It was with a certain amount of surprise I heard that Kron intended, last year, to bring Veritas Medieval Faire to Grant County, Washington. After the crimes they had been victim to in that area I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had written off the area after relocating to Ellensburg, WA. Instead, they decided to respond to their experiences, as well as the crime and gang rates associated with Grant County, by offering an event which centers on the culture of the knight, a warrior in his own time, with the Code of Chivalry as the central focus. They decided to offer an alternative to the crime and gang culture still-associated with that area by bringing engaging educational opportunities and programs to an area which might not otherwise have access to enrichment activities. I want to support them in that quest.
For my part, I want something good to come out of my negative experiences in Moses Lake and Grant County. The crimes to which I fell victim hurt my heart and my business- but if I can take that negativity and turn it into something good, perhaps I can create new meaning from the losses. The thefts made me aware of the horrible problems Grant County still needs to work on, but if my awareness does not move me to action it is valueless. I’m turning it into motivation to help a non-profit do good work in an area I know needs it. If the Code of Chivalry makes a difference in the life of at least one child or helps even one youth reconsider what it can mean to be a warrior and gives them an alternative code to use of character building… I’ll count it as a success and the losses worth it.
The life of even just one is worth far more than the material losses I suffered… and I am grateful to Kron for reminding me of that with their Veritas Medieval Faire.
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.
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.
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!
With the warmer days and increased sunshine of spring, I’m starting to think of the beautiful vineyards of Washington. I recently had the opportunity to see some of the new growth of 2014 out at White Heron Cellars and I have to tell you, I’m already getting ideas! I think the texture of the vines will translate really well to some upcoming etched designs! I’ve also gotten some inspiration from the vineyards for some new original jewelry display options for some of my winery consignment locations!
But meanwhile…. think this beautiful cat might be able (and willing) to share some of the wine it’s guarding?
This past weekend I volunteered for some fantastic programming done by the Knights of Veritas for Weed Warriors‘ Newcastle Earth Day event (I had no idea how relevant environmental conservation was to people during the middle ages!). It was such a wonderful day. Even the downpour wasn’t enough to dampen my spirits! I also had an opportunity to meet a fantastic artist about whom I can’t wait to tell you in a later blog post!
But, for today, I want to tell you about how Butterfly Sundries uses environmentally responsible practices!
I save (and recycle) scrap metal! While it’s easy to recycle scrap silver by sending it back to my metal distributor, I also make a point to save every single little bit of scrap of copper and brass. Even the tiniest piece can find new purpose in becoming a handmade jump ring, headpin or rivet. The pieces which have not yet found new purpose are also kept in reserve for Butterfly Sundries’ planned (eventual) expansion into casting!
For etched pieces, I use and reuse the acid for as long as possible and then dispose of the (toxic) acid responsibly! I don’t like for anything to go to waste and so I store and reuse my acid as long as possible (I used my recent batch for more than 2 years)! Rather than diluting and neutralizing it before dumping it down the sink, as do many hobbyists and artists, I use ethical (and legal) disposal practices– calling to my relevant local governmental agencies and following their procedures for packaging it and bringing it to them for proper disposal (even when it costs me money)! I also use safe jewelry cleaning and “antiquing” products on all my pieces from a trusted company!
Whenever possible, I try to ensure that Butterfly Sundries’ only purchases jewelry gift boxes made of recycled materials. Mailing boxes are also, as often as possible (Priority Mail Boxes are the exception), re-purposed boxes from my supply shipments or from a local business which gives me their old boxes. My box filler comes from my supply shipments, old newspapers and sometimes even filtered wood shavings from Bender’s Wood and Brass!
If environmental stewardship is an important cause to you and you want your jewelry purchases to support a nonprofit dedicated to environmental stewardship programs, shop now to support Weed Warriors (the current Featured Charity, they receive 10% of all sale profits through the end of May)! Also, check out Butterfly Sundries’ Beautiful World Collection on Etsy here! 10% of the sale profits on all those items will continue to support Weed Warriors’ programming through February 2015!
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