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intention and jewelry making

2015-08-10 17.09.55
silver soldered green magnesite; gray and coral ceramic beads; coral colored beaded chain; silver chain zorarts August 2015

Intention is not just about making mindful and joyous scheduled plans to meet your business goals for the week.  Oh, goodness!  If that were so, I would be in the Intention Misfit Hall of Fame.  There appears to be as much pressure around the word intention as there is around “body fat percentage.”  (Eek!) Intention may also include setting small goals that set you well on your way to reaching your audacious ones.  In my own expanded interpretation I include my intended interactions and mood that I would like to experience while aiming for my next set of goals.

Why would I determine that my mood as well as my interpersonal interactions are integral to my intentions as they relate to my jewelry making, social media, blog posts, and potential sales?

  • i enjoy the process!
    • making the jewelry
    • taking more classes
    • meeting potential customers
    • working with the flame
    • learning more each and every day…and enjoying the ride!
    • if i have an off day, i don’t want to fall on old patterns which include “i am not enough.”
  • many of the pieces i work with include
    • torches
    • irons
    • sheers
    • sharps
    • chemicals
    • and a plethora of materials that my wandering, distracted mind (any distracted mind) should not be dealing with (a nap and a soft pillow would be a safer choice.)
  • the old adage “what you put into it, is what you get out of it” reminds me to save my blog posts from testy days, when i would like to vent about another life recommendation that was delivered to me without kindness of spirit, in the draft folder.  (Oh, how i love and respect the drafts folder.)

Your own small business, whether 3 weeks, 3 years, or 13 years old is a piece of you, especially when what you are offering is handcrafted…and you intend to provide that piece with peace of mind.  One on one rapport with customers so that customers become friends.  And a willingness to continue your lifelong learning journey so that your game will continue to be improving, as well as your social media prowess. (Yup.  Working on that too.)

This October I will venture to Vend Raleigh’s annual Illuminate Conference in efforts to meet more like-minded small business owners who understand that this is a journey, though I respect those who are in it for the race.  Different paces, different journeys.  But “collaborative, not competitive” as Vend Raleigh, and Social Butterflies NC founder Cary Heise  has noted, is something we can all look forward to!

(Special thanks to Heidi at Worth it Woman for her Wednesday Word of the Week: Intention.)

Posted in handmade, jewelry, NC local

why i solder and enamel handcrafted jewelry: color and fire!

I “accidentally” ended up soldering. After years of beading, and repurposing less used jewelry items, I began taking metalsmith classes and workshops. (Wee!) Several classes in I had touched (perhaps, torched?;-) on enameling, as well as fine tuning wire work techniques, but the soldering was one of the first activities where I could “tune” out my ever-chattering mind and just be with the activity. The creative process had taken hold and I was zen with the soft solder.

The torch fire and immersion enameling also allows me to play with one of my favorites aspects of jewelry as art and craft: color. And the combination of flames and enamels grants the ultimate manipulation of depth, and breadth of color. Ombre effect? Speckled? Hand dipped? Layers? Enamels, even when applied with fire, become a paintbrush in my hands ready to dance with the flames trying to capture the more desirous shade of peacock blue before overfiring. Even when a smidge of overfiring happens, I try to see what beauty I can uncover in the slightly charred edges of my metal. Is the color strong enough, and complemented by the char? Is this a Tim Gunn (Project Runway reference) “Make it Work” moment?

A game of catch and release. Some days I master the flame. And some day she masters me.

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new pieces at craft show this Saturday 2/7/15

…and you know you want to see them! (Maybe not, but you can read about them. And view some fantabulous photos;-)

Since this will take place one week prior to Valentine’s Day, and the Holly Springs Cultural Center is in the same building as the library (kids and families abound), I am introducing some colorful V”owl”entine’s Day necklaces.


I am also ready to share with more of the public (oh dear!) my more geometric pieces, including this baby:


If I don’t see you Saturday between 10am-3pm then the unsold items will fill up the virtual walls of my Etsy shop .  Wee!



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cat models jewelry

So I kept reading that jewelry looks markedly improved in photographs if it is modeled.  Considering that I am just a tad social media shy, and that my daughter is equally so (compounded with her lack of desire to wear jewelry or have her picture taken regularly)…a conundrum appeared.

But where there is a will, there is a creative way, especially in a house full of multiple animals that enjoy being in the thick of things. Never mind all of the artistic, educational, and maker tools and supplies here at the ready!

Let me present zorarts newest model, Scout:


As you can see, Scout is modeling a Southwestern themed piece from our pending bracelet line.  I was testing the stone, solder strength, and cuff to see what more was necessary to progress.   I was hoping to capture a photo in the daylight, but Scout decided my preferred photo location was his new cozy spot.  Luckily, his lounging in the sun made him wonderfully compliant with jewelry placement.

I am pretty certain that regular wearing of jewelry on non-sleepy kitties will result in many broken pendants, dents in the plaster, and fur a flyin’!

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Holly Springs Arts Council’s 3rd Annual Community Arts Festival

Long time no e-chat everyone, I know.  And all I have to say for myself is: it is because I have been slammed making more stock (well, in addition to all of the other hats I wear–not make)  since I will be participating as an arts vendor at the Community Arts Festival hosted by the Holly Spring Arts Council February 4-7, 2015. The vendor show will take place on Saturday 2/7/15 from 10am-3pm in the Cultural Center (attached to the library, 300 West Ballantine Street, Holly Springs, NC.) There will also be several local food trucks arriving at 11am to offer their tasty treats until about 230pm. (I know my 11 year old is pretty thrilled about the donut truck.  If it was a donut truck that offered video games, too?  Puh-lease!  I would have that baby on over for her next b-day!)

If you are able to stop over and say “hi” on Sat 2/7 that would be awfully kind of you!  I will have more jewelry,  as well as chocolate since it will be one week prior to Valentine’s Day.  Super-duper thankfully my friend L will be tag-teaming the day with me so I will have companionship for table set up, sales (or lack thereof), and general chit chat.

My concept going into this is a win-win: if I sell a handful of pieces that would be amazing!  What a way to share my work.  And it would give me information about what stones, chain lengths, and price points work best.  If less sells?  Or nothing?  Well, it could be due to low traffic.  Or lots of other jewelry vendors.  Or my needing to look at how I price or display my pieces.  The benefit of low sales is that all of that stock goes right into my Etsy shop which needs more items;-)  And working out the displaying techniques?  Turns out to enter any other local, town festival (especially when the jewelry entries are over-saturated) you need to present not only photos of your jewelry but of your booth and/or table.  So this short amount of time that I’ve had to prepare?  It will bare all sorts of jewelry fruit! (Hmm…now there is an interesting visual image.  If I could only conjure some jewelry chocolate my evening would be complete!)





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copper foil tape: foiled again!

I seem to be missing something on the soft soldering market: why is there no 1/8″ jewelers quality copper foil tape?  (Or if it is out there, where is it hiding?) There is an abundance of 1/4, 1/2, and 1 inch tapes as well as a plethora of variations in between, but I have found that the 1/8″ size works wonderfully with a wide assortment of my stones.  The foil doesn’t overlap too greatly when  I am using the bone folder (really, the most useful tool with the most demonic name!) which limits too many bumps and lumps later on in the process.  Magical, I tell you!

But the 1/8″ tape I found?   I was so beyond the moon to find the 1/8″ tape that I didn’t exactly pay attention to anything except that it was the width I was so desperate for, as well as copper foil tape.

Seems that all those folks that do electrical soldering need their tapes too.  Who knows? Maybe people have all sorts of clever uses for it, just like the section in Real Simple magazine where they have new uses for regular items around the house and you find out that you could have been shaving with the cleaned out inside of a toothpaste tube all these years instead of purchasing razor cartridges?

But after the past two weeks of trying to build up a lovely little stash of jewels all for myself…mwha ha ha!!! (I mean, start a true  selection of pieces for Etsy and craft shows.) I have discovered that this tape is not the tape of stones. Or soldering. Or making pieces that can withstand the test of time.  No!  It renders my pieces useless (not even sample-able) about 50% of the time as the tape burns away.  Even using the bone folder to smooth the tape before fluxing and soldering?  That has torn said nefarious tape.  I should have taken that as more than a clue, but I still moved along with my insufficient tape.

Alas, ’tis not to be. I wonder if others have a way to trim their tape evenly in advance.  I know some who use an utility knife once the tape is on the stone to trim it down, but that is just asking for scratched stones and a bleeding me.

In the midst of the copper foil tape situation of 2015 I was able to post a few more pieces to Etsy this weekend.  Here is a photo of one of them for your viewing pleasure (and to make up for all that copper foil chit chat;-)





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Soldering (finishing work): experience in patience

Late this afternoon my plan was to clean up several pieces in efforts to start some sales in the near future. (You are jonesing on the vagueness of my plans, aren’t you? Sometime, somewhere, I might sell something…) Smooth the edges with some additional flux and solder; clean with my “who knew it even existed until recently?” brass wire bristle brush; sand and polish.  However, my creative energies flow-eth and I busted out with a new piece despite my (supposedly) strict guidelines about finishing work only.

Here is a lovely photo of said piece.  Started out as the rectangular gray stone (I really should start keeping better track of the names of all of these glorious stones.  Shameful!), and when one of my smaller turquoise pieces didn’t come together as I had hoped it became part of this pendant and I went on from there. Still need to file and rework the edges, but the idea is there.

Rescuing something that seems like a mistake turns out to be one of the most intriguing parts of the entire process, especially since the voice in my head wants to tell me to toss it all aside.)


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Silver goals for 2015

Happy New Year everyone!

Yes, I know I could note that I have “golden” goals for 2015, but that would be plum silly since I don’t make jewelry with it, nor do I wear it.  And silver simply seems more attainable all around, so I will stick with it (and not refer to any of these notions as resolutions, or we are all doomed to a lack of jewelry and witty banter. Quelle horreur!)

Over the holiday “break” (interpret as you wish since so many of us work, rest, and play in varying ways) I already accomplished a few of my mini-goals related to zorarts:

*make sure this dandy blog directed to the domain name

*update the theme of this site (which was much easier once I had content already in WordPress to play around with, as opposed to starting from scratch in December)

*read as much as I could about Etsy, handmade jewelry, small businesses (including sales taxes, and all of those details that some might want to leave in a folder somewhere), and how to give myself that extra PPP—UUU—SSS—HHH I needed to move forward in this undertaking…

Still needed (in the very near future:)

1) a few more necklaces and earrings to build up my stock

2) completing the “About” and “Photos” section of this blog

3) setting up shop on Etsy (thus the need for stock, a lovely blog to tie it all together, and I suppose I may need to venture onto social media a bit.  Me oh my.)

I may need to leave those silver goals at that level for now.  My head tends to never quite stop thinking, waxing, waning about the thisness and the thatness of every odd (and less odd) part of the day.  If I add too much more to this list (or my many other lists–come on, you know you have them as well, even if they aren’t written down;-) it will impinge on my creative energies.  We can’t have that now, can we?

Earlier today I tried soldering a batch of ten turquoise stones from start to finish to provide myself a better guesstimate in how long it would take me to complete such a task. (Header photo is one from that process.)  I was reminded of a phrase that a coworker would frequent when she was zipping through the office with too much on her plate: “the hurriered I go, the more behind I get.”  Needless to say, I will not be entering speed soldering at the next Crafting Olympics, though I did get some more stock, as well as photos.

Here is one of the weensy turquoises clamped into the third hand tool, cooling down after receiving its jump ring. Cleaning and sanding still to come.


P.S. This is a “third hand” that many jewelers, crafts folk, and more use to help hold items they are working on, as well as provide magnification. (Thank you for the image.)

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Welcome to zorarts!

Hi friends (old and new!)–

Welcome to another step in my wild, creative, artistic ventures with jewelry.  Now that my soldering sessions rarely leave 2nd degree burns on me (or scorched kitchen counters), all of the practicing has left me with a hankering to keep designing, and building on what I’ve already learned. Never mind the added bonus: much-o pendants (mainly soldered/silver/stone) to start sharing with all of you. Wee!

I’ll slowly, but surely, add more wares, as well as work my way towards improved photos, social media presence, and exploring this artistic journey with you.

P.S. Please find one of my rings below. Brass wire band with silver solder.  I am still fine tuning how to share these with others with the intricacies of ring sizing. (Admittedly, I had no clue what was involved with sizing all of my beloved silver rings. Now that I am crafting them?  I feel even more appreciation, and shared-frustration, with those who made them before.  I also now know that placing a rectangle or square stone on a ring requires some quantum mechanics that only seem to work when the sun is in the 7th house and my body is angled in such a way that my massage therapist will make a pretty penny the following week.)