Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jewelry Box

When we rolled through Long Beach before the holidays, a friend asked if I would be interested in working on a custom project that was a bit different from my usual work. Given that I've been looking for ways to broaden my horizons, I said 'absolutely.' What she had in mind was a jewelry box, as a gift for a friend of hers.

I had such fun thinking about and creating this box. With the leaves on top, it's obviously in the same vein as my jewelry. But, without access to a torch, I had to think about how to create a 3-D object without soldering together individual pieces.

I ended up fold-forming the box and then attaching the lid with hemp twine.

And, I have to say, I'm beyond thrilled with how it turned out! Thanks Jenny for the creative push. :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bike Mustaches @ PopUp!

This year, I'm not in town for the Long Beach PopUpShop, but it's shaping up to be a great one nonetheless. To make things super easy on my fellow PopUpShop sellers and organizers, I only have the Bike Mustache there. But... there are lots of them... meaning it's a really easy place to pick one up for your someone special who needs to personalize their bicycle! The sale runs all weekend, so check it out! More info at the PopUpShop website.

Oh, and in case you haven't stumbled onto it yet, I started a blog just for the Bike Mustache! Yew haw!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Last call...

Our down-time in Long Beach is coming to a close. I have enjoyed being in town for the past few weeks, catching up with friends, discovering what's changed (or not), seeing family, and working on lots of orders that have come in before the holidays. And I'm really glad that we decided to do this, and decided to stay so long (I have Russ to thank for that). And, now, we're preparing to push off again, despite the storms and cold that have suddenly landed on us. (On another note, it's been pretty funny to watch how much Southern Californians freak out because it snowed in the mountains!)

Our plan is to head East from approx Oceanside (Northern San Diego county), past the Salton Sea, through the desert. I envision lots of time with zilch for internet access over the next month or so. (Although, maybe I'll be proven wrong?) I'm looking forward to being in the middle of nowhere again, possibly even spending Christmas far away from anything resembling civilization. But... it does mean that it will be an extra hurdle to send out orders. Not impossible, just a bit of a delay.

So, all you last-minute order-ers, I encourage you to get on it now. Interested in gifting someone a hand-crafted Bike Mustache? Would a pair of handmade earrings or a one-of-a-kind necklace be the perfect gift for your friend? All orders received in the next week (by Tuesday, December 15) will be shipped in time for the holidays (domestic orders, that is). After that, there will be a delay. So head on over to my etsy shop today!

Thanks everyone! And happy getting-ready-for-the-holidays!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Whittling down my load...

My studio that I've been carrying around with me on our bicycle journey is ridiculously heavy. And I've decided that it's time to lighten the amount of weight I'm carrying. I opened up my tool roll and took stock of everything I have with with, pulling out tools that I really am not using (like my hand shears, which are really heavy, extra needle files, pumice and brush). And then, I went further.

For riveting, I use two hammer ends... a cross peen and a ball peen. Of course, they happen to be on two different hammers. When I was working in my old studio, it wasn't a problem to use the two hammers I had (so it never made sense to buy one hammer that does both). When we left, I tossed both hammers in the bag. And I've used both on this trip. But, really, does it make any sense to carry two hammers? Especially when one of them is really heavy? No.

And, so, in a stroke of genius, I realized that I could file down the planishing end of the cross peen hammer to replicate a ball peen and then send back the ball peen hammer. I borrowed some heavy duty machining files from a friend in town and took down the end of the hammer. Then, I sanded like crazy and took a polishing cloth to it. And, voila, a work of art! It looks like that end is supposed to look like that. And it works great. And I get to rid myself of the 10 or so ounces that make up the ball peen hammer. Happiness all around.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Earrings & Free Shipping!

I finished up a new set of earrings and uploaded them all in my etsy shop. These earrings all feature bits of the Krebs Northern California Cycle Touring map. This map was gifted to us by another cycle touring couple and led us through some amazing areas while we traveled down Highway 1 North of San Francisco. (If you're interested in cycle touring this area, I highly recommend this map!) I decided to use parts of the map that represented some of the best areas you rode through: the Redwoods, Elk Prairie, Bodega Dunes, Samuel Taylor State Park.

And, in honor of the big after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, I'm offering Free Shipping on all purchases in my etsy shop from Friday, November 27 through Sunday, November 30.

Happy beginning of the Holiday season!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Join in the Mustache fun!

In case you haven't noticed, the Bike Mustache has gotten all sort of internet lovin' lately. I guess the facial hair trend isn't on it's way out, yet, which is great news for me! And great news for you!

I've been making mustaches on the road as we're traveling... in campsites throughout central California and at the homes of various hosts... and decided that it would be fun to let folks know where their mustaches are being created.

So, now, when you order a Mustache on yer Bike, it'll come with a note about where it was made (and maybe even GPS coordinates, if we can figure that out).

Here I am working on a mustache outside of Yosemite National Park...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I am thrilled to announce that I have new work available! I just finished up a whole bunch of earrings and they're now available in my Etsy shop.

Some feature bits of Madrona bark and Eucalyptus leaves that I collected in various locations along our journey of the past few months. Others feature bits of newsprint and an old Spanish map.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Matter Gallery Grand Opening

I won't be able to make it to the Grand Opening, which I'm bummed about, but I invite each and every one of you to go on my behalf and explore all the wonderful hand-crafted goodness that Jo has brought together in Matter! Gallery.

Friday, November 6th, 6 - 10pm

113 Fifth Avenue SW (between Capitol & Columbia), Olympia, WA 98501

Live jazz music & refreshments

Also... Mark your calendars for December 4... First Friday at the gallery (and all of downtown Olympia). Extended hours and a holiday focus!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sitting and thinking...

It's raining today. A hard, driving, steady rain. Supposedly, it's the tail-end of a typhoon that hit Japan earlier. At times, the rain is actually coming down sideways. It's running down the road in a steady river and the wind is whipping the trees. It feels like winter. And I am ever so glad to be inside. We're staying with friends south of San Francisco, and we made it here just a few hours before the storm broke. In this moment, I feel so very fortunate. Not only are we inside, we're warm and dry, with an entire day to read, do laundry, catch up online, and there's no pressure for us to be pedaling down the road today. It feels very luxurious.

Lately, I've been thinking about how amazing it really is to be able to go on this completely open-ended journey. To have the freedom each day to decide what we want to do and where we want to go. It's not un-ending bliss, every moment, but it's a sense of complete self-reliance and ownership of my life that I haven't ever felt before. And that feels very luxurious as well.

Being on my bike, riding down the road, for several hours each day, provides an opportunity unlike anything else to think. Just think. Brainstorm and work through ideas. Some days, I ponder jewelry designs. Other days, I think about how I hate the way houses look when the garage is right in front, or how terribly sad (and smelly) it is to see so many dead dear (and raccoons, foxes, skunks, etc.) on the side of the road.

Without a doubt, the hardest part of this journey has been finding the space and time and energy (both physical and creative) to create jewelry. And, to be perfectly honest, I have my moments when I wonder if I shouldn't just put it on hold for a little while, and focus exclusively on the cycling. Except that, eventually, I'm reminded of just how fascinated I am with studio jewelry and how much it continues to intrigue and inspire me and be something that I want in my life. So, I give up the notion of giving up on making jewelry, and I go back to trying to figure out how to keep creating while we travel. And this is, quite possibly, one of the most amazing lessons of this journey so far... learning how to make the time for the things that I want to do with my life.

So, now, I sit inside, dry, while it continues to rain outside, and I'm thinking about just what type of jewelry to work on over the next few days of non-riding time in the Bay Area. And I find my brain waffling over whether to work on more complex, one-of-a-kind, gallery-appropriate pieces or smaller, simpler, more affordable pieces. Of course, there's no right answer, and if I can figure out the workflow, I'll probably end up making both styles.

Tomorrow, I'll probably still be huddled inside, as this storm is supposed to continue for a bit more, and it will give me some time to make sense of the myriad ideas running around in my head... and, hopefully, finish up some of the pieces that are in pieces in my studio bag. Cheers to the Japanese typhoon!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Matter Gallery

Hi everyone!! I am lost somewhere in the redwoods right now... it's beautiful and oh-so-inspiring. Squeezing in the time to work on new pieces is proving to be quite tricky, but I'm certainly not giving up! Yesterday, I actually set up shop at a picnic table at a state park, surrounded by tall trees and fog... not bad, huh?!

I hope to have these pieces wrapped up and photos to share soon... but, in the meantime, I have an exciting announcement... Matter just opened!! Matter showcases functional art with a reclaimed/sustainable theme... and my jewelry is featured!! If you're near Olympia, WA (or feel like making a field trip), stop in and say hi to Jo and check out all of the creative goodness!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Confession: It's a bit strange to be on the road...

As an Etsy seller, I'm signed up to receive emails from them about updates and tips and all the goings-on. Lately, there have been a lot of great improvements and happenings. And, to be honest, as I scrolled through them all the other night, I found myself feeling a bit detached from it all and kinda sad about it.

I used to spend hours trolling through Etsy and thinking about my shop there and reading the EtsyMetal forums (and, basically, being virtually connected to the whole hand-crafted world). These days, I'm rarely online. I'm having a fantastic time exploring and learning - and I really need this time of pushing myself to think outside of my "usual" - but it's finally starting to all sink in that I'm living a very different life these days.

Part of the goal, in bringing all of my tools with me, was to keep working and keep growing my jewelry line - and to not just totally run away from everything. Over the past month and a half, I have effectively run away and learned how to "be" on the road for an extended period of time. But, I haven't quite figured out how to be "productive" while traveling.

The other day, I created a pair of headbadges for a couple that we've been staying with out on Orcas Island. I finally broke out my portable studio and did some work - and it felt really great. So, I know that I can find that happy medium - I just have a lot work ahead of me to figure out how to incorporate these things that I used to be more connected with into this vagabonding experience.

In the meantime, a few more photos of things that have been inspiring me on the road:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

EtsyMetal Blog Carnival: My First Piece of Metalsmithed Jewelry

I am terribly late in posting this for the EtsyMetal Blog Carnival. I'm going to cop out and use the excuse that I wasn't near a computer and the internet for long enough to get this up in time. But, better late than never, right? :)

The EtsyMetal group that I'm a part of started this once-monthly blog carnival where a bunch of us would post on the same topic. This month, the topic is "My First Piece of Metalsmithed Jewelry." I'm actually going to put up two pieces, one was my first metalsmithed item (which happened to not be jewelry, even though it was for a jewelry class), and the other is my first metalsmithed jewelry. So... drumroll, please...

My First Metalsmithed Item...

This was my first project in my first metalsmithing class. The task was to take a 4"x4" piece of copper and, by only piercing the sheet, create something 3-dimensional (in other words, no soldering, no riveting, nothing too complicated). The idea was to learn how to be creative in creating a 3-D object and to understand the ways in which metal is brilliant when it isn't flat and to learn to think outside of that typical 2-D mentality.

I chose to create this design with two people intertwined and dancing because I wanted to have fun with the project and create something the felt very kinetic and unusual. And that would also make you stop and have to think about the fact that "stood up" out of the flat sheet. It was a lot of fun to create and is still one of my most favorite pieces. (And in storage while I'm traveling.)

My First Piece of Metalsmithed Jewelry...

This was also a project for my first metalsmithing class. (In fact, it was my final project, after doing a lot of practice and non-jewelry pieces.) The task was to create a hollow-formed ring that was at least 2" in one dimension.

This piece was hard. I had to work through several designs before I finally hit on one that was 3-D enough for my instructor and fun enough for me. And, man, it turned out to be extremely challenging! The ring body is hollow-formed out of sterling. The flowers were roller-printed, pierced and riveted on. Then I attached a piece of piano wire, coiled it and attached the bug. I used the piano wire was at the suggestion of my instructor, who rightly told me that it was have much more spring and I wouldn't have to work-harden it as much as a piece of sterling or copper wire. The only problem with the piano wire is that it's extremely brittle after being heated. So, I snapped several pieces (post-soldering) before I got one that worked. It was a huge exercise in patience (I remember wanting to throw the thing against the wall after the piano wire snapped for the fourth time), and I'm extremely glad that I stuck with it. I had visions of wearing it to gallery openings (which I used to do a lot), but I never have, because I'm slightly terrified that the wire will break again. (At this moment, it is very carefully packed and in storage.)

Read other EtsyMetal member entries (these ones were done on time!):
- Andes Cruz
- Beth Cyr
- Caitlyn Davey
- Clare Stoker
- Cynthia Del Giudice
- Danielle Miller-Gilliam
- Delias Thompson
- DuckduckGoose
- Kerin Rose
- Libby Rosas
- Nina Dinoff
- Nina Gibson
- Quercus Silver
- Sara Westermark
- Tamra Gentry

Friday, August 14, 2009

Enjoying the Journey...

We're now two weeks into our vagabonding... we spent a few days in Portland, then rode down to Corvallis (my hometown) for a friend's wedding and to see family, then rode back up to Portland (where we're taking a day off to catch up on blog posts and put new chains on our bikes). Tomorrow, we'll push off toward Seattle and the San Juan Islands.

The experience, in a nutshell, has been incredible so far. It's just barely starting to sink in that this is our new life for the forseeable future, not just a vacation. I haven't yet broken out my studio equipment, because I've been so completely immersed in the traveling part, but I hope to test out the limits of what I've brought within the next week or two. (Stay tuned...)

In the meantime, I thought I'd put up some inspiring photos of our trip so far. Head over to The Path Less Pedaled for more stories and photos.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meet my Portable Studio

It's so crazy to think that I actually managed to pare down my studio to just what will fit in one small bag on my bike. I am seriously impressed! And even more curious to know if I'm actually going to be able to do all that I think I'm going to do. Only time will tell, I guess.

Until then, I thought I'd post a little tour of my portable studio...

Portable Studio
I have a (custom) Bike Burrito loaded with all of my hand tools and a small portable benchpin. There are a couple of tins with misc. seeds, Liver of Sulfur, beeswax, stringing materials, etc. There's a shop apron, goggles, masking tape, some rags. A stack of promo cards. Sandpaper and a sanding board. Lots of metal. And, to be perfectly responsible, a folder for all of my business receipts.

Hand Tools
My Bike Burrito holds the following: brass brush, soldering tools, Sharpie, burnisher, x-acto knife, .925 stamp, small hand drill, a couple hammers, hand vise, ring mandrel, saw (and blades), hand shears, wire cutters, a couple pairs of pliers, sanding stick, and files.

And that's all folks. With any luck, it's all I'll need. Of course, if it's not, there's still a bit of open space in the bag for me to stash anything else I need to pick up. (Like, perhaps, a small torch?)

Follow our travels over on The Path Less Pedaled.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A few new beauties!

At the last minute, I realized that I really wanted to create a few last pieces in my studio configuration here. I put these little beauties together before my bench was taken apart and all my stuff was collected... and am just now taking photos and uploading.

Four new mini autumn pendants... all now in my etsy shop. :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Le Unicorn

Before packing up my studio, I crammed in a half dozen new pieces... including a new headbadge for my friend Jayme. (Who paid me in trade with the greatest Bike Burrito ever - photos coming soon.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Goodbye Beautiful Workbench

Yesterday, in our last preparations for our big bike trip, I handed off all of my stuff to my dad for safe keeping. Including my beautiful workbench.

A few years ago, when I started working with metal, I asked my dad to build me a workbench for Christmas. I needed a space to work and I didn't like any of the overly-complicated benches I saw on Rio and I thought it would be great fun to work with my dad on this project (which it was). It's a beautiful piece of furniture - simple, solid oak - and I have loved every minute that I have had it.

But, it's heavy and big and doesn't really fit on a bike, so we took it apart and loaded it into my dad's car for him to take back to his house. I trust it'll be safe until we find ourselves at the end of this trip and I can claim it again and set up a new studio somewhere. I'm feeling fine about it this morning, but it was (honestly) really hard to say goodbye to it yesterday.

I sold my under-used bracelet mandrel to Nina Gibson from Etsy Metal, and when she came to pick it up, she told me she had no idea how I was going to do it. I've been very calm about all of this until yesterday when it all of a sudden became very real - and, now, I have no idea how I'm going to do it either. I guess that's a part of the process - and I still feel that it's something I really need in order to push myself in a new direction with my jewelry. But, wow, I am officially workbench-less now. How very very strange.

I am also torch-less. I decided not to bring the torch I have, because it has a long hose and I didn't want to chance any punctures while it's bumping around on the bike. Depending on how things play out, I might be in the market for a small and very portable torch.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A bit of studio time today!

The days have been passing in a big blur lately. As we get closer and closer to leaving on our big bike trip, I've been completely wrapped up in getting rid of stuff and packing and figuring out all the last details. But the apartment is looking quite bare now, so I figured I could focus on something else for a few hours - and I took some time to camp out in my studio and finish up a few headbadge orders before I dismantle my workbench and put it into storage.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

One a Week Challenge: Makeover!

I haven't been too active in the One a Week Challenges lately, as I've been swamped with so many other things. But, I've been watching them and loving everything that folks have come up with. This week's challenge was such a fun theme that I really wanted to participate - even though I'm late! :)

The theme? Jewelry makeover.

I opted to work with this scarab that my grandmother had bought in Egypt many years ago and which was later gifted to me. I've always wanted to do something with it, but have never really figured out what that was. Back when I was beading, I slipped a head pin through the hole in the center and strung it on a string of beads. I wore it, but it never really did it justice.

So, I figured I'd give it a go of presenting it better. Like Alisa, I rummaged through my box of miscellanea and found just the perfect piece of silver that I had cut out and prepped for something months ago and then never used. Curly bezel, a collage of old maps and newsprint, and the scarab...

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. It's not weighted right, with the scarab on the side, so I'll need to still add something to make it hang straight. But, I'm determined to do that before we leave on our trip, so that I can have at least one nice "show" piece with me.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shop Update!

I finally got finished shooting a bunch of new photos and updating my etsy shop! This is one of those big projects that I wanted to finish up before we leave for our trip. I also modified some prices (hint, hint). Next in line is updating my website...