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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

This Blog has Moved!


OK I finally did it! I've moved the blog over to wordpress! I redesigned my website and I tried to customise my blogger template like last time but it was too complicated and blogger wasn't having any of it! It kept telling me there were code errors in code I'd copied and pasted from other sites that were already working perfectly fine!

Added to that the issue of commenting - if you tried to comment on the blog recently you probably noticed your comment never showed up! Now I've moved the blog over I've discovered some lovely comments left by people that blogger decided not to bother showing me! I'll be able to reply to them on the new site now :)

If you subscribe I'm sorry this is going to be an inconvenience to you but I definitely think the shiny new site will be worth it! If you follow this site through blogger, google friend connect or using the rss feed you are going to have to re-subscribe on the new site but it's really easy to do that! In fact you can just click here.

Anyway, what are you waiting for? Head over to to rejoin the fun :)

Sunday, 15 April 2012

New Gift Boxes!

I decided that it would be nice to ship all of my jewelry in a gift box, not just the pieces which are easily bent or are more expensive and not just at Christmas.
I'm sure you'll agree, jewelry feels so much more special if it comes in its own little box, whether it's a gift or not.

My new custom rubber stamp
Unfortunately the system I had for boxes before isn't great. The round stickers look ok but I was having to hand punch the circles out of the sticker paper. This wasn't just time consuming, it also meant a high chance that the printing would be off center.

I was all set to order pre-printed stickers when I decided to look into all of the options instead. I did my research properly and looked at pre-printed boxes (very expensive) and a wide variety of stickers. Along the way I got my heart set on kraft boxes with a metallic copper logo on.

Custom rubber stamp design
Eventually I found a fantastic solution and by far the most cost-effective - a custom rubber stamp with copper ink. I also found a great supplier for different sized, cotton-filled kraft boxes which look awesome!

I'm super happy with the results. The stamping still takes time but not nearly as much and the results are much more consistent. Any errors add to the handmade charm rather than just looking stupid. I'm definitely going to stick with these until I can afford to get custom-printed boxes!

What do you think?
Custom stamped copper on kraft boxes

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Etching Filigree

As you know, I tried out etching the other week. I was pleased with the result and found it surprisingly easy so, of course, I decided to dive right in and try something a lot more challenging.

I decided I wanted to have a go at etching right the way through the piece of metal and, not being satisfied with a simple cutout shape, decided to start with an attempt at making filigree. Me being me I also did not bother to do any research beforehand!

Preparing the resist
I didn't bother cutting out a template this time. Instead I started by painting both sides of my copper squares completely with white acrylic. I then drew my design onto the paint on one side using a sharpie (green to contrast nicely with the copper).
Finally I used a needle file to scratch away the paint from the rest of the copper square, the parts that were going to be etched away.

After etching
Some idea of how long to leave the pieces in for might have helped but all I had to go on was the single attempt I'd made at etching before. I kept checking the pieces of hour or so and eventually decided to take them out when they looked like this (after about half a day)

At this stage I was surprisingly pleased with the results. You can see the white paint that was on the back of the piece in almost all the gaps and the green parts seem to be intact.

After removing the resist
Unfortunately appearances can be deceptive and it turned out that I had actually left the pieces in for too long. Judging by how well they turned out it looks like they were only in a tiny bit too long but it was enough. The fine lines of copper I had ambitiously planned were too thin and just fell apart in lots of places when I started cleaning off the paint. Turned out the paint had been keeping the whole thing together!

I didn't let that stop me, though. The very next day I started another etching project, taking on board what I learnt from these mistakes. I made sure my copper lines were much thicker this time so there would be more leeway on how long I could leave them in the etching bath. The result is a much chunkier feel and I'm not sure if it deserves to be called filigree anymore but I quite like it. I know just the home for these geometric shapes and I'll share it with you soon!
A more successful attempt

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Gilder's Paste

I showed you the beginnings of a piece created with my newest skill - etching - the other day and I also told you there was more to the story.

Well I wasn't lying and I want to share the next stage in the creation of this piece today. (It involves more exciting supplies!)

Since I couldn't bring enamel into my pieces I decided to have a look at other ways to include colour and I came across Gilder's Paste.

The effect is nothing like enameling and I wouldn't use it in the same way at all but I loved it nonetheless. I like my pieces to look natural so I only bought paste in 3 colours; gold, cream and this one pictured -  'patina'.

Gilder's paste applied to the disc

I had to try the patina first since its one of my favourite colours, goes wonderfully with copper and it is possible to get copper to patina to this colour naturally. I have also had customers asking if they could get my items to this shade.

I applied the paste with a thin cloth but I also managed to get it all over my fingers. That's ok, though, it says you can use your finger to apply it. I spread a layer all over the oxidised copper disc, making sure to get the paste right into the cracks and indents.

Once the paste was dry (touch dry in a few minutes) I used a sanding block to take off the paste from the raised areas and to polish off some of the tarnish as well. When I was happy with the overall tarnish and "patina" effect I treated the disc to prevent further tarnish. I'll share that technique with you in another post.
Buffing to a shine

This little disc is getting a lot of posts for one small component that hasn't even found a home in a finished piece of jewelry yet! Of course I'll let you know when I find the perfect piece to put this little disc in!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Pinterest Dilemma

Pinterest has exploded recently and I'm sure, by now, everyone in the crafting world has heard of them. There are articles all over the place about Pinterest etiquette and tips for optimising Pinterest use if you are a small business owner.

The other news, that's spreading slightly more slowly but creating an ever-increasing blot on their name, is about their terms and conditions. That's what I want to talk about here.

Direct Match Media presents an
alternative point of view
 in a
straightforward, logical way.
There are 2 aspects to the terms and conditions which are causing concern:

"You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms"

This one means you are only allowed to pin images which you have the rights to and is necessary to support the next one:

"By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services."

This all seems quite scary and that's why it's causing such a fuss. Technically it does mean that if Pinterest gets sued for having images on their site, they can pass over that responsibility to the user who originally pinned those images. It's a requirement for any company that they protect themselves to the hilt with these outrageous terms because otherwise they simply wouldn't be able to do business, Pinterest is not the first company (and I bet not the only service you use - did you look at facebook's terms recently?) to have these kinds of clauses.

So what does it really mean for you?

Image from
As a Pinner:
As someone who uses Pinterest to pin images they find on the internet this creates a dilemma. I enjoy pinning other people's work and feeling like I am supporting them at the same time by helping to create awareness. There are lots of articles out there giving tips to small business owners on how to get people to pin their items so it is clearly a good thing. Etsy has added a "Pin It" button to every item on their site so they obviously encourage pinning. 

So what's the issue? Well it's that part about granting Pinterest a license to use those images for themselves, I'll talk more about what that actually means in the next section.

So what should I do? If you want to be safe you should stick to only pinning your own content or images which clearly endorse pinning, such as those with a "Pin It" button or ones on sites with a Pinterest badge or statements encouraging you to pin their work. For most companies, having their images pinned is only going to be a good thing so if you aren't worried about playing safe you can probably continue to pin as you choose. The only real exception is when a company's product is an image - an illustration, art print, photograph etc but there are also some people who just don't like people to see their work in case it gets copied. Copycats on Pinterest is a whole other issue, discussed very nicely on Handmade Success, if you're interested.

As a Seller with images being pinned:
This is actually less of a big deal than people who are pinning things but its the issue that people seem to be most worried about.

Fellow SF Etsy Team member Riley Noehren explained it very succinctly like this:
    "There are a few key limitations to what Pinterest is doing:
    1. It is just a license, not an assignment of rights. You keep the rights to your photos, etc. Pinterest just has a right to use them in a limited context.
    2. The license only extends to things related to the website.
    3. The license only covers the content you upload, such as your photos, not the crafts themselves.
    4. The license only extends to Pinterest, not other Pinterest users for use off the website."
So if your product is a physical one you have nothing to worry about. All Pinterest can do is to use your product images on their site. They don't have to credit you for the image and they can change it and sell it if they want to but in practice all they are going to do is display the image just like they display all pins. Add a watermark to your images to maximise any potential benefit you could get from this.

If your product is an image you may want to think a little more carefully about discouraging people from pinning your work. In practice Pinterest aren't likely to use your images in any way different to what happens already but if your images are your livelihood you may prefer to be a little more careful. Other people don't have the rights to grant Pinterest a license for your work but it could get messy anyway if they pin it and Pinterest uses it. The only issue you really need to think about is pinning your own work; weigh up the benefits of the Pinterest exposure vs. the potential risks.

If you don't want your images pinned you will be unable to sell on Etsy, since they have added a Pin It button to every product. If there is a way to remove the button I was unable to find it! (Not because I want to remove it for myself but because I would have shared it with you)

In conclusion:
Yes, those are some scary terms and conditions but the reality is that they probably won't affect you in the slightest. If you are worried or like to play it safe there are 3 levels of action you can take:

  1. Only pin images that you own or ones which the owner is clearly ok with pinning.
  2. Only pin images you yourself own
  3. Don't pin any of your own images and stop others from pinning them too.
Please note, I am not a lawyer and none of this should be considered legal advice. I'm just trying to lessen the panic somewhat since a lot of it is overhyped!

This article by Juliann Krute (@TheSickChick) on Craft Test Dummies is by far the best article I've seen on this subject and presents the issues very clearly and rationally, explaining both the worst case and also likely case scenarios.

Pinterest has responded, you can read all about it at DDK Portraits

Wednesday, 29 February 2012


I've been itching to learn some new techniques to expand my jewelry designs so, with Christmas out of the way and more time on my hands I got started!  I really wanted to pick up torch enameling and I was thinking of using my copper clay (that's still untouched) to create pieces with raised designs on to enamel cloisonne style.

However some quick research into enameling revealed the need for a mask, good ventilation etc. so I decided, since my studio is still in my bedroom, I'd have to put that idea on hold. One day I'll have a house with a nice, ground floor studio with proper ventilation and a kiln... or I'll rent out studio space somewhere.

During my research I discovered this awesome blog and there, alongside a tutorial for enameling, was a tutorial explaining how to etch copper. The more I read, the more I thought it sounded like the perfect way to create texture on my pieces and not too difficult to get started.

Painting the resist through a handmade stencil
Not long after I went a bought some Ferric Chloride (from Blick), cheap, white Acrylic paint and a small plastic container with a lid so I could use it to etch in and then also keep the Ferric Chloride in it when I'm done. While I was in Blick I also spotted some plastic stencilling sheets and added them to the basket!

Once I got all the exciting new stuff home I couldn't bring myself to use it. What should I etch on first? What design should I do? What if it doesn't work and I waste my copper sheet. Eventually the fear was replaced by inspiration and I finally got started.

Copper ready for etching

I settled on a simple, barcode-style design after realising the cute pattern of tiny flowers I'd first thought of would take me forever to cut out the stencil. I cut a strip off the stencil sheet and cut out the pattern, then stenciled it onto a simple copper disc.

Copper in the etching solution

I loved the masking tape suggestion for suspending the copper in the Ferric Chloride and it was so simple to setup. I wasn't really sure how long to leave it for. The solution around the copper went green straight away so I was worried it would be super fast process and I kept checking it every few minutes. However it took much longer, I think I left it about half an hour before I got impatient and took it out! Nail polish remover took off the acrylic paint easily.

Etched copper disc

This is the finished result. You can see the lines aren't straight but the lines of paint weren't straight either and I like the more organic feel of it. It comes out beautifully shiny but the blog recommended torch annealing the piece to be sure all the Ferric Chloride has been removed. Of course that turned my shiny piece black but my flame did glow green for a good few seconds under the torch.

I finished the disc off with another new product and technique which I'm excited to show you in a future post!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Once a Month Promise - February

I know I'm cutting this one right to the line but my (lame) excuse is that February has fewer days!

Anyway, coral has been on my mind lately, as I'm on the hunt for a coral bridesmaid's dress, so I'm suddenly finding myself attracted to a colour I normally shun.

This month's Once a Month Promise item is a perfect example:

Fused Glass Cabochons from Outrageous
I simply couldn't resist that bright, happy colour so I've ordered these fused glass cabochons. I already have something in mind for them, inspired by a piece I saw on the Oscars on Sunday. It should push my skills in a new technique as well so I'm really excited. They're coming from Australia, though, so who knows when they will arrive, fingers crossed it's soon, I can't wait!

What of last month's item?
Well as soon as they arrived I was inspired and knew exactly what to create with them. Unfortunately I've... misplaced the item so I can't photograph it to show you! I'm hoping a proper tidy/sort out in the next few days will reveal it, otherwise I'm going to have to buy another set and make another one (or 2, I really want to keep one for myself!)